Ask Afrobella — The “Professional” Prejudice

Since that Glamour magazine editor’s quote hit the streets last week, yours truly has been swamped with e mails and Ask Afrobella questions. Like this one, yesterday!

Robin asks: Bella, I’m waiting on the corporate hair discussion. I’m in a rut with this issue as we speak. I am looking for a new job in Accounting but I am also letting my relaxer grow out. I have been either wearing twist outs, braids, or just slicked back into a ponytail. Many of my friends and fam insist that I should straighten it out before interviews. However, I don’t think that I should be limited to straight hair in the corporate world neither am I particularly interested in working for a company that would have me conform this way. I’m looking for styles that aren’t intimidating without having to conform and flat iron it into submission. Please Help!!

Lay the flat-iron down because help is on the way, Robin! But I must confess, I feel kind of like a fish out of water even addressing this. Here’s why.

I grew up in a country where I always saw men and women with natural hairstyles working in professional capacities. Maybe back in the Seventies when Rastafarianism seemed like a relatively new phenomenon, things were different. But as an Eighties baby in Trinidad, I grew up knowing teachers, shop clerks, my parents and siblings co-workers… natural hair never seemed like an impediment to a job, to me. My high school principal had a fro. My flyest high school teacher — shout out to Miss Stroud — wore a low ‘fro, and so did one of Trinidad’s coolest newscasters back in the day on Panorama. Minister Penelope Beckles wears her hair in a short afro style, and Trinidad’s Member of Parliament, Fitzgerald Hinds, has awesomely long and handsome locks. (If there is any hairstyle that’s been discriminated against in Trinidad, it’s dreadlocks. MP Hinds has retaliated against instances of ridiculous discrimination — like when St. Charles High School sent home a 12-year-old Rastafarian girl because of her hairstyle back in 2004. Hinds has also spoken eloquently before parliament, regarding the unfair and discriminatory practice of cutting off a Rastafarian’s locks when they are imprisoned).

So I never really thought natural hair in the workplace could be percieved as a politically motivated “no no.” The concept of everyone having to conform to a Eurocentric standard of “normal” hair and beauty never occurred to me, when it came down to getting a job. I assumed it was all about being smart and qualified enough.

When I was making the decision to go back to school for my MFA in creative writing, my most conservative friend was horrified. “You mean you don’t want to make money?” he gasped. Of COURSE I do — but I’m a creative girl who just never planned to work in a traditional office, is all. And I haven’t. The office I work in now is all about Casual Friday, every day. I have a co-worker who’s been known to wander the halls wearing a bathrobe over his clothes. Seriously. I typically wear jeans and a cute top to work, flats, and my hair can be as big and crazy as I want. Recently I wore it in a ponytail after months of wash n’ go ‘froliciousness, and my editor was like — what happened? Did you cut your hair? So I can’t speak from my personal experience about natural hair being regarded as anything less than acceptable. I wouldn’t want to work somewhere that made me feel any other way.

Because I couldn’t relate to these corporate mandates, I decided to ask the one person I knew who was in charge of hiring people. My dad. He’s a human resources manager, and he practically did a spit take when I called to ask him about this Glamour issue.

“How could you make a statment like that? So what, they think that everybody must wear false hair? Well I suppose that’s already happening – you see so many of these young girls with long hair that isn’t theirs, wearing it red and blonde…” he laughed. Then he turned serious. “But that is a highly explosive statement. Extremely ignorant. I have all kinds of employees, with all kinds of hair. We have people here who have shaved their heads as low as possible. That’s as natural as it gets, right? Then there are those who braid their hair – and either wear the natural braids or add in extensions. And there are some who just wear their hair naturally curly, like yours. Of course, if somebody comes in unkempt, looking like all kinds of things live in their hair, we wouldn’t consider them. But natural doesn’t mean unkempt, ungroomed, or unwashed. Maybe they’re so ignorant they think that. They need to realize that natural doesn’t mean you just wake up in the morning and go to work with your head looking crazy and all kinda-how. All of the women I know with natural hair — with afros — keep it clean, neat, and looking quite attractive,” said my dad. Exactly! My dad made another valid point — “There are all kinds of white women with thick and curly hair. Are they expected to straighten theirs, too?” Good question, Dad.

Let’s examine the original statement again. Remember, this was first quoted in American Lawyer magazine: “First slide up: an African American woman sporting an Afro. A real no-no, announced the ‘Glamour’ editor to the 40 or so lawyers in the room. As for dreadlocks: How truly dreadful! The style maven said it was ‘shocking’ that some people still think it ‘appropriate’ to wear those hairstyles at the office. ‘No offense,’ she sniffed, but those ‘political’ hairstyles really have to go.”

Note to this still-unnamed Glamour editor — Not every person who wears natural hair or dreadlocks is doing so for “political” reasons. Some people just love the way locks or afros look. Some people don’t have the time or the inclination to use chemicals to alter the structure and texture of their hair. Some people want a hairstyle that is effortless. Some wear locks for religious reasons. Also, isn’t it illegal to discriminate against people for reasons like this? If you get laid off and you think it’s because of your hairstyle, surely you could file an EEOC complaint, right? And surely some of the lawyers present had some insight as to that angle.

Personally, I’d imagine that having some employees who wear their hair in natural afrocentric hair styles is a good thing for any company — it reveals diversity, open-mindedness, and inclusion. That can’t be bad, can it? But I understand Glamour’s lack of knowledge. I assume most of the editors and employees aren’t women of color. And I’ve been asked extraordinarily dumb questions about my hair. I’ve gotten everything from “how do you get your hair to look like that?” (answer – it just grows this way) to “can I touch it,” (answer: no, I am not your personal Chia Pet), to “do you wash your hair?” Yup, a girl in college once actually asked me that. Her ignorance really astounded me, and I did respond rudely.

As someone who works in a super-flexible and atypical office environment, I had to ask someone with natural curls who worked someplace more corporate. And purely for convenience’s sake, I asked the girlfriend who came over for dinner last night. Meet Jessica.

She’s one of my closest friends. I’ve quoted her a few times on curly hair products (she loves the Garnier Soft Curl Cream), and finally, here’s a photo I ganked from her MySpace. She’s Jamaican and works for Sandals. In fact — there’s a photo of her, throwing a wedding bouquet somewhere in this flash intro.

Jess works in the corporate office, and recently someone was telling her that they prefer to pull back their curly hair into a tight ponytail or bun for the workplace. She admits that on super-corporate wearing-a-suit-for-a-business-meeting days, she pulls her hair back. But not every day, not by a long shot. “So why I must pull my hair back and get a headache every day? Cho. That’s some racist ish,” Jessica scoffed when we discussed this last night.

Now I hear you — Jessica’s hair is natural and can get big, but it isn’t curly like CURLY curly. Her hair might be seen as the “acceptable” mixed chick office curls. What do you do if you work in a super corporate environment and you’re transitioning? Or your hair is kinky and thick and in a fabulous fro, not curly and long?

Here’s my two cents — as long as your ‘do looks neat and clean, I’d assume it should be fine. You should always go to work looking and feeling poised, professional, calm, and collected. So Robin, if you work in an inflexible office and you’re transitioning and your hair’s looking puffy in front and distressing you, I’d say invest in some wide and comfortable headbands to pull your hair back during office hours. (note, I am NOT advocating daily use of headbands, and it’s REALLY important to make sure they’re comfortable. I’d say think cloth not plastic, think soft jersey, and stretch ‘em in the store to make sure they’ll fit well around your cabeza). I have a wide variety of hair bands and I switch up my look with accessories quite often. Sometimes I pull those crazy curls back with a banana clip.

If you’ve got locks or twists or braids and you don’t think you work in the kind of place that’s cool with that, invest in a pretty hair tie — holla at Brunsli or make your own — then keep those locks well-groomed and looking fly.

And if you’re going out on job interviews, and you show up looking professional and elegant, give great interview, and bring your A game… and STILL don’t get the job and think it’s because of your natural hair? Then stay on that job hunt. Your qualifications, expertese, talent, and smarts are what SHOULD matter in the workplace. Who wants to work for a company that won’t accept you for who you are?

This article, titled Black Hairstyle in the Workplace, says it all quite well. It ends on this note: “Katrina Williams, the New York management consultant, says she’s not interested in wearing braids to work anymore – they’re too time consuming to groom – but values her right to wear her hair as it grows naturally. “When it comes to, ‘This is my hair, natural,’ versus ‘Do I need to perm it?’” Williams said, “I just decided if people are looking at my natural hair and thinking it’s not professional, that’s not a place where I should be working, because they clearly have some discrimination issues.”

I definitely don’t think anyone should be restricted to wearing unnatural hair styles in the corporate world in order to be accepted, or to advance in the ranks. If a company won’t consider your qualifications over your coif, then I think they don’t deserve you as an employee. But my lack of experience with corporate environments makes me feel like I can’t truly offer an unbiased or truly informed perspective here. So I reach out to my bellas in the worlds of accounting, law, marketing, sales… making that paper in office cubes across the world. What have you noticed about the perception of natural hair in the workplace? What advice would you give Robin, or any other afrobella who’s entering the world of work with a natural do? What say you?

By the way, when I was looking for “professional afro” on Google, I came across this fascinating Japanese hair site — yup, people are going to hairdressers to get their naturally straight hair made into curly afros and dreads. Just goes to show you, the grass really is always greener on the other side.

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Comments

  1. Another good post Bella.

    I just wish people would get over the fact that we don’t all look alike. I also feel that discriminating against us because of the texture of our hair is as bad as discriminating against us because of the color of our skin.
    Having relaxed hair(and weaves especially) is very expensive. I wonder if Uncle Sam is willing to give black women who are not natural a tax write off for the upkeep of those weaves and relaxers.

  2. Thank you for this post. I will tell you as a law student for the past three years, myself and some of my classmates evaluated this issue at length. I actually had this discussion during my first year and find myself returning to it now, as I seek work and await my bar results. My hair has tight curls and tends to grow out rather than down, so when I wear it down it is big. I usually I try to pull it back into a low ponytail for interviews or when I am working. It did not seem to be an issue when I interviewed for clerkships but I do worry because I desire to practice business law that it will be an unspoken barrier to advancement. And this comes from someone living in Atlanta, GA. After watching a male classmate make the decision to cut off his locks after the first year of law school, I asked him why and he basically said he did not want them to “hold him back”. I desperately don’t want to have to perm my hair, nor do I really desire to have to press it weekly so for now I think I will continue with what I have been doing or get tree braids. Again, thanks for discussing the subject.

  3. Haha – a tax write off… that’s hilarious!

    I’ve got extremely thick natural hair and work in a fairly corporate environment (an advertising agency). I usually pull my hair back with a pretty scarf – just easier for me. But sometimes I wear it in it’s full fabulousness, and actually get many compliments. You know when you’re hair is looking fierce, and as long as you rock it strong, I think your co-workers will actually admire you. Diversity in the workplace is huge right now, so dare to be different.

  4. You know with this issue. I feel this way: You want a corporate job, don’t be surprised if corporate people judge you. I think if you’re in a field where you think people might be concerned maybe you should think about going into another field.

    I think we need to out some of these self-righteous “natural” hair sisters too. With these nice little tidy dreads. Half of their hair is fake. Wouldn’t be a problem, but they are the main ones writing for Essence and on various media about how they are so conscious and blah, blah, blah and how they were so lost when they had straight hair and then they go on about these “poor” sisters who don’t know with blue extensions. They are such bs. I know for a fact half of their hair (dreads) are fake. I have dreads, but I don’t think I’m any more conscious than a sisters with extensions. In fact I think lots of the sisters with very creative extensions are very conscious, innovative, and fashionable. (The irony is many of these conscious sisters go to these very women who they look down on to get their fake dreads in their head.)I don’t think hair is a good measuring stick for anything. My hair happens to be political. I want people to know, “No I don’t buy your b.s., this is not a fashion statement.” It can look cute, but my hair is a definite “screw what you think is ok, how you think I should make money…etc, etc…”

    I think the thing that really trips me out are these sisters that work as corporate lawyers with dreads and have the nerve to point their finger at someone with straight false hair as not being conscious or not loving them self. I think how you make your money has way more to do with pride in community than your costume. The costume logic confuses me, since to me corporate America is simply polished and shined up slavery, so what if you have dreads and eat at African eateries on the weekends. You want to be corporate, that’s cool, but the self-righteousness bs has to end.

    Jane

  5. Another good post Bella. As a corporate manager I’ll say this. My greatest hurts regarding my natural hair came from other black people that I worked with. The askance looks and the mimicing behind my back while I was speaking. Never hearing what I had to say because they were too busy staring at my “natural” hair. I’ve more rarely come up against opposition from non-blacks because of it. When I do I believe it’s not just my hair but the self assurance I have as a black woman coupled with my stature and resume. For some the whole package that is me is overwhelming.

    To date I have conciously made some different choices about my hair. I feel like just as I must represent for black people by working harder and always putting my best foot forward, I must do the same with my hair in order to represent for natural women. I try to make sure that my styles are on-point at all times, enviable, and effortless.

  6. Bella, has this alleged glamour presentation been verified as true? Everywhere I look, everyone reference’s Jezebel’s blog. Not to knock that blog, but I checked the article titles of the most recent Americal Law magazine (http://www.americanlawyer.com/contents0707.shtml), and the only article remotely related to hair is “Style Diary: Bill Lerach
    Photo study of his fashions and haircuts over the years.” From the Jube publication, I found “Solid Start
    Mintz, Levin makes progress on the diversity front.
    By Elizabeth Goldberg.”

    This smells like an urban legend… That an editor of a mag would present slides that could potentially land members of the audience (LAWYERS!!!) in a discriminatory lawsuit seems hard to believe… Perhaps I just need to go to my local B&N and pick up the magazine.

    Just wondering.

  7. Jube=June. My bad.

  8. Good point, Sunsail! I did read a response from Glamour somewhere… I think a reader sent it in because an editor responded to her angry e mail. Let me verify that over the weekend. But I looked at the American Lawyer site and couldn’t find anything. It did say NEXT month’s issue, so this could be the truth. Either way, good point and a ridiculously ignorant statement to make before a group of lawyers.

  9. Bella,

    I am a member of a Georgia Association of Black Women Attorneys and this article was sent out as a pdf this week. I am not sure how I can forward it to this site but it is definitely in existence.

  10. Hey Bella, love your site! Your blog inspired me to create my own. I love your topics and the way your readers feel free to share their opinions on random yet intelligent topics.
    I check your blog weekly and I’m hoping you can check mine too! Come support the Alpha Females!!!

  11. Afrobella, miss new beauty left the response on the post about magazines.

  12. Thanks for the heads up, curlyj. I was really, really, really hoping it was not real… *sigh*

    I didn’t realize it said NEXT month’s issue. *double sigh*

    BTW, The American Lawyer is not available in retail stores.

  13. lol and the floodgates (of comments) have been opened

  14. Excellent post. I’ll have to do some more research on this Glamour editor because that’s just ridiculous. I went natural last year and now I’m sporting locs just past my ears. I’m in a casual office environment as well, but it seems like whatever I do to my hair shocks/intrigues my colleagues. (I’m the only black person, fyi) Even when I had a perm, they’d get excited when I switched the side I parted my hair on, went from wrap to curly, etc. Don’t even get me started if I pin my locs up! It’s like their curiosity draws them to me w/questions/comments etc. Anywho, thanks for sharing. Great site, I’ll definitely be back! =)

  15. Hi there ladies,
    Not to push Black Enterprise on anyone, but it’s a great magazine to look at when they do issues on their “most powerful black women” in corporate America.

    You will see (not a lot) plenty of women with short afros and maybe a few other natural hair styles.

    I’m not a corporate baller, but I’ve worked in many different environments. My conclusion: as long as it doesn’t look extreme, NO ONE CARES.

    The Glamour woman was talking (out of her behind) from a fashion point of view and I think for them straight and blond is the only viable hair style.

  16. Bella, I thought we weren’t calling them Dreadlocks anymore? Anyways great topic! I wear my beautiful, natural hair big, and bold and I get compliments on my hair everyday. People tell me all the time “Your hair is gorgeous, I wish I had hair like yours.” My supervisor, who is caucasian one day surprised me and said, “I wish I had your hair.” Listen up ladies, I also get fellas telling me how much they love the natural fro. Corporate America, I have to laugh..is it really about fitting in? How about setting new trends in the corporate world. I say wear your hair natural, but well groomed of course. Separate yourself from the norm and make changes in the corporate world. Corporate America needs new faces a real wake up call. Brainwashed people out there it is time to wake up and see the light. This is the hair I was born with and it is the way my creator intended it to be, it is perfect for the corporate world, but maybe the corporate world isn’t right for me..

  17. TheBeautifulOne says:

    Afrobella does it again!
    Hello and thanks for checking out my blog and leaving words of encouragement. You rock!
    Now you know I live in South Korea and let me tell you, people love my hair!
    My students opened my eyes when they told me that a lot of Korean people have naturally curly hair but they have it straightened. I asked them why as I would love to see a Korean woman with curly and they said that people would tease them and say something to the effect that they are “island girls”. Two of the young ladies I teach told me: ” if we had perfect curls like you” they’d leave it curly. What?! It just goes to show…I recently had it blown out because I wanted it trimmed (curls gone wild!) and came back to school the next day, you would have thought that I had plastic surgery and thus no longer looked like my former self with all the ‘oohs and ahhs” that I received! One of my male students even asked me “What HAPPENED to your hair?” They liked it but I believe that they preferred the curls. I doubt if I’d get that response in the States. People here love and respect variety. I’ve had young and elderly people want to touch my hair because they like the thickness of my curls.
    Some Koreans do have dreads and I’ve seen a couple of them in my neighborhood with afros. It’s something to see in person.
    My work environment is very relaxed as well so there’s no hair issues. I cannot imagine working in an environment where hair has rules and regulations.

    Vive la difference!

  18. bella, I actually wrote the editor about this and was happy with the quick response (less than 24 hours) but not with the consequences for that editor(a slap on the wrist).

    I posted about it today. I may not have gotten the response I wanted(she should have been fired), but I did feel better.

    I encourage everyone-If you’re pissed let them know.

  19. Wow Bella! I knew this was a big issue. But I didn’t expect my comment to be front and center. I think I blushed! Thank you so much for addressing this topic! I refuse refuse refuse to give up and relax my hair but it hasn’t been so easy to stow away the flat iron. Thank you for the tips regarding the headbands and accesories. I’ll have to do some browsing! (Yes, I’m suffering from puffy edges/straight tips and I’m not ready for the big chop yet). Thank you to all the Bellas for your comments…I truly have experienced a boost of confidence and a wakeup call. For me to think that walking into a job interview poised with confidence, armed with wisdom, charm, and profesionalism would get me nowhere due to my hairstyle is actually pretty ridiculous. Like I mentioned in my original comment, I don’t want to work for a company that would see natural hair as a negative. I guess its just hard because I’m transitioning and I can’t go for that fro that I’m dreaming about just yet.
    But Kamika you are so right, I have found that I get a harder time from my own people than others. (as strength/courage/wisdom reflected, white people tend to be more amazed with natural hair as if its other-worldly) My mothers black ex-boss was the only person I know to have a dress code banning braids, dreads, and other ethnic styles. Wow, right?
    The issues go on and on. So thanks again bellas! The next time I walk into an interview, my head will definitely be higher!
    OH and BeautyinBaltimore tax write offs for relaxers and weaves, hilarious but legitimate statement.

  20. here’s my question.
    scenario:
    two black male candidates w/equal accomplishments, experience,references etc. HR of a Fortune 100 firm has a tough time making a decision to hire. one has a full head of cornrows, the other a flat cut. how do you think gets hired? :)

    ding ding!! flat cut dude. no surprise there..well for me. i work at this firm. its a very very large global firm and every year we get lots of aspiring, competitive black students coming thru our doors looking to start a lucrative career. and theres always that one girl or guy that loses it over something like this.
    im not supporting this..just saying it happens allll the time. is it something i or the rest of us blacks in the office can change…i doubt that..way too big. are they making it known they openly discriminate against hairstyle? no!!..theyre way too smart.
    my take…i just do me. ive busted my tail too long in school to get my hair to keep me back from an aspiring career. coporate america is full of skeletons in their closets..this wont be the first. i just do my part.. bills gotta get paid!

  21. WHOA!!! I just checked out the “Afro Perm” site unbelieveable. Your right I guess the grass is always greener on the other side.

  22. Black Honey says:

    I work in big pharma and I pull back my ‘fro with a headband or rock cornrows. I came to the same conclusion as Miss Katrina, if they can’t handle the naps, they can’t handle me.

  23. My neighbor and I were just talking about the professional side of natural hair. I’ve noticed that lots of women in upper management and politics are natural sisters.

  24. @ Che, I think there is a differeence when a brother wears cornrolls and a sister. Longhair on men is generally not accepted of any race of men in corporate America .

  25. @ Che, I think there is a differeence when a brother wears cornrolls and a sister who wears cornrolls. Longhair on men is generally not accepted of any race of men in corporate America .

  26. The Beatiful One:

    What is your blog address. I would love to check it out!

    That being said. I refuse to be dictated by other people’s opinions. At some point, we as black women have to draw the line. I DARE anybody to question my hair in its natural state. I’ve been natural my WHOLE life. It is all I know. If you are “offended” by my hair, then deal with it. I swear, I will take that ish all the way to the Supreme Court.

    I have a story, kind of related. I had a meeting with a potentially huge client. We talked several times over email and phone and he was really excited about carrying my products in his stores both here in MA, and in his 50 stores across the USA. So, I get to his office and his is sooo shocked. I could just feel his thoughts…Who the hell is this! He was totally expecting to see a white woman, not a dark black woman with natural hair.

    Well, sure thing, he started to TEAR my products apart. It was sooo hurtful. Anyway, after all the tearing down he DID make me an offer–a quite lucrative one. I sat on it for a few days and decided to turn it down cold.

    My work is an extension of myself. If I were to make deals with him, I have just lowered my self respect and have de-valued my products.

    I guess for me, there is a thin line between being a business woman and selling your soul for a sell. I did everything right except for the fact that I was black and had natural hair. The problem is on him and him alone. I refuse to sell my soul and my self respect for a sale and more black women need to do so.

    Rock your cornrows and your fros and WALK away from those who don’t see the beauty in them. If white women can wear their hair natural, by all means, so can I.

  27. Most of my coworkers at my summer internship were black woman. Most of them permed their hair, though Connie (who was the oldest by far) wore her hair natural and short. We all got into a discussion about hair after one of the woman took out her braids and opted for a straight blunt bob. It looked good but she was complaining about how hard it was to maintain, breakage ect. that comes with chemical relaxing. I suggested that perhaps she should go natural which, in retrospect, might have been a tactless thing for a non-black person to say. She shrugged and said she wouldn’t know what to do with it. Another girl laugh and said she could never go natural because “my mama didn’t raise me to be a nappy little monkey” or something to that effect. I was personally shocked because the comment smacked so such self-hatred, but I kept my mouth shut.
    I take the bus to the Pentagon a lot to go into the city and have seen a few black military women in unrelaxed crown braids which I think look really cute. The military isn’t exactly corporate, but you can’t beat it for conformity. So, if afrobella officers are still able to rock the natural look, then I think anyone can do it.

  28. Sumatra77 says:

    I wear my hair natural or in braids – mostly in braids. Most of the interviews I have had my hair has been in braids and I don’t think that has hindered me at all. That said, I think it is naive to believe that America is progressive enough where how you wear your hair doesn’t matter. It SHOULDN’T matter, but to some people, it does. I think every individual has to ask him/herself what the desired outcome is. If you are faced with your dream job and you think your natural hair might not be accepted, you have to decide which is more important. If you decide that the job is more important and you conform to “those” standards, all is not lost. When you are in the position, you can start to confront those ideas by letting your true self shine through. Walking away isn’t always the solution, particularly since most corporations care only about the bottomline and not individuality. So the greater loser might just be you and not them. It’s a very sad but real truth. By the way, I recently had an EEOC complaint I attempted to file against a company. EEOC(and their affiliated lawyers) will not do much unless it is BLATANT racism. Since most companies are in at-will states, corporations can fire or lay you off for any reason. I had one lawyer say that perceived discrimation has to be such that it almost incites a riot for it to be worth pursuing. Food for thought.

  29. You know why non black people are more accepting of natural hair (especially in the professional arena) than black people, because traditionally natural hair people are people who go to college, who grew up around white people, who are of african descent, but not african-american. In the US there are different degrees of black, traditional, southern, african-american is pretty much at the bottom of the totem pole. Those of you whose people are from Alabama and Mississippi know exactly what I’m talking about. When the mainstream American public see straight black woman hair they are reminded of the 50s, Jim Crow, all the fun things that went down from the 1800s until hey still now. When they see a black woman with natural hair they think, “You’re not one of those ghetto black people. The ones on welfare. The ones who will curse you out after being slapped down for the 100th time. The black people who can’t get it together. The black people who should ‘try’ harder. The black people whose last names are Jackson, Williams, Thompson and Jones.” It’s like some sick game, black people started straightening their hair to be acceptable and now since everyone who is black started straightening their hair, its now viewed as one of those “ghetto black” girl things, so I always even question myself on that issue. Who is more black? And what does natural hair really mean? Societies always change the rules to f with people on the bottom of the totem pole. I remember once this non black person asked could she touch my hair and how great I was for embracing my natural hair and when I stared at her she went on to explain how awesome she thought I was being a real black woman. She explained she didn’t understand why other black women were not as forward thinking as me. I guess she thought that was supposed to be a compliment, I then asked her could I feel up her fake boobies and told her how forward she was to take steps to assure that her 45 year old breasts looked as good as possible. She didn’t didn’t talk to me anymore.
    Yeah I think the reason black people (the older ones, the ones that had to drink out of the colored people fountain, the southern ones, the ones in the projects) have a problem at times with natural hair, is because deep down they know that some of people with natural hair aren’t all that natural.
    Jane

  30. Sumatra:

    I will NEVER loose if I chose to not comprimise myself. I guess, to me, money is not everything, the dream job is not everything. And I will never put myself in a situation where I have to choose between myself and an opportunity. I guess that is why I am self-employed. My human form is everything and I will die happy in a cardboard box as long as I know that I never had to sell my soul in the process. That’s just me. Walking away is my solution.

    But i tend to live in extremes so for those that don’t you make great points. I guess, I’m just tired of having to work for acceptance when I should not have to. I’m tired of constantly have to extend the olive branch. I’m sorry, there is NOTHING wrong with my hair in its natural state. If coporate america has a problem with that then I choose to take myself out of that population.

  31. Black Honey says:

    Jane, I need some clarification before I respond. Where are you from originally?

  32. oooh jane ure gonna get some ppl heated lol.

    @glamour. i dont think its necessarily the hair length cuz i have many male white coworkers wearing long (shoulder length )hair. but whatever it maybe its not just strictly directed at black males.

  33. @Jane

    I wasn’t going to respond to your incoherent bloviations, but are you aware that you made absolutely no sense at all. If you got your information from Internet sites, I advise you to do research at the nearest public library or consult some one who knows what they are talking about. First of all, although I do agree that society has constituted various labels for different types of black people:

    “In the US there are different degrees of black, traditional, southern, African-American, is pretty much at the bottom of the totem pole.”

    This is absolutely and unequivocally incorrect. What is traditional black? There is no such thing as being traditionally black! Yes, it is possible to be a southern black individual, but where you come from is in no way a “degree” of your blackness! Furthermore, being African-American is also not a “degree” of your blackness. What is the difference between being an African-American and being a southern black (you have made a clear and separate distinction in your oafish statement)? Especially, since the south is populated by thousands of African-Americans.

    “When the mainstream American public see straight black women hair they are reminded of the 50s, Jim Crow, all the fun things that went down from the 1800s until hey still now. When they see a black woman with natural hair they think, “You’re not one of those ghetto black people. The ones on welfare.”

    This is definitely no surprise to me, but once again you are completely false. When many Caucasian Americans see black people with relaxed hair they see a sign of conformity. They see black individuals conforming to white society by altering their hair in a way to show the mainstream that they are not a threat. In fact, natural hair reminds white Americans of the Black Panther Party and the pro-black movement that they initiated in the United States. Natural hair reminds white Americans of a time when black people or should I say a few black people were against following the standards of white America! When black people wear their hair natural, consciously or not, you are indeed making a statement. You are saying to every one around you that you are proud of your heritage. You are sending a message that you will not capitulate to the ideals of white America and that is indeed a threat.

    ~I’m not even going to entertain the rest of your nonsensical statement. I have deduced that you can’t possibly be a Black American and if you are you are quite young, mentally and in age as well. That’s it. That’s all. I’ve said enough.

  34. I no longer live there, but I worked in a very, very White small town in Arkansas as the supervisor of medical transcription for a hospital designated as a level III trauma center. When I quit fighting with my hair (mostly because I had to drive either 2 hours to Little Rock or 3 hours to Memphis to get a professional relaxer), I cut it all off and worked my mini fro. Well, I agree with RyanB and KamikaK. There were no other Black people in administrative positions in that hospital, no black doctors (the two who did come stayed for 1-3 years before giving up and moving on) and maybe one or two nurses, and people were always shocked when they saw me when they would come for an interview (one woman actually SAID to me — you didn’t sound Black on the phone! — I was like, well I am, now sit down and let me see if I want YOU to work for ME). Anyway, all that to say this was definitely not an environment used to seeing professional Black folks, and I wore heels, stockings, and skirts or dresses almost every day, so quite corporate, BUT, my hair was really never an issue for the white people. I mean, many of them had plenty of other issues with me, and I definitely had to prove my worth, but my hair, usually, if they said anything about it at all, it was pretty much like cute do, really suits you. I agree with KamikaK and RyanB. It was the people who were the same race as me who made the derogatory comments. I think, however, it was more like don’t show them our secret, how shameful. I don’t know. Hair is an emotional issue for Black people like it is for no other race, I don’t care what you say. The legacy of our history, I guess. A lot of times White people really don’t know how emotional of an issue it is, what all is tied up in it, and so they’re just like, hey, like your hair! not realizing that there can be a whole lot of drama curled up in the curls!

  35. Daphne, I feel you. I thought about responding to jane but I just didn’t have the strength. I think you said it quite well.

  36. The best examples of hair freedom I can come up with are at my Century 21 Real Estate Office here in Trinidad. We have all types of hair, including braids and the braided woman wore afrocentric clothing…

    The law courts here have braided or dreadlocked Attorneys.

    At one bank that I worked at we even had a guy with tattoed eyebrows! All the guys could not wear their earrings while on the job but he had these special eye brows..go figure.

  37. and another thing..if one looks at print or televison adverts of black women they all have either straight hair or long curly hair…no dreds, fros or plaited extensions..anyone else noticed this?

  38. che Says: August 25th, 2007 at 4:31 pm
    oooh jane ure gonna get some ppl heated lol.

    @glamour. i dont think its necessarily the hair length cuz i have many male white coworkers wearing long (shoulder length )hair. but whatever it maybe its not just strictly directed at black males.

    I hear you Che but I think people are more acccepting of long hair on women. I also believe that BW wearing long natual hair is different from BM wearing long natual hair.

    Furthermore I think telling a BW that her natural hair is not professional is like telling an overweight nurse or doctor(and there are plenty) that they are not professional looking because they have a weight problem and don’t look like a shining example of health.

    We can also take this further and say if BW who were there hair natural on some militant tip than WW who don’t tan are saying that the skin color BW is repulsive or that the AW who don’t lighten their hair are saying that bonde haired WW are repulsive. TO tell you the truth we can go all day with this type of logic. The next time someone brings of the topic of natural hair not being professional give them some examples.

  39. Sorry for the errors.

  40. @ Jane and
    Delphine

    Look here for an amusing take on the different classes of black folk. The blogger wrote the post in jest but there is a degree of truth to it.

    http://amadeo.blogsome.com/2007/04/24/dividing-lines-part-2/

  41. Pets I see natural hair in comercials and print advertising but little to none in Movies or television shows

  42. @Glamour

    I just checked out the blog. I guess I’m in between African-American and black folks lol.

    * “blak people” should definitely be before N**** don’t you agree?

  43. TheBeautifulOne says:

    For Mireille

    Etes-vous francaise? J’aime bien ta reponse.

  44. Je parle un peu francaise la beau une. 2 semesters some time ago.

    and I agree Da.phne

  45. gotcha glamour !!
    that link is cool but he forgot to address the wave of black immigrants (african, west indian,etc) in this country…and we all know thats another degree of seperation right there.
    but i wont digress off bella’s hot topic.

  46. Yo, I gotta say that I agree with your Pops, Bella. Although conservative hair is usually a plus in an office environment; natural African hair is never a minus. It’s illegal to be so in the United States. If a lady is worried about her beautiful curly tresses distracting from her qualifications, a low fro, pony puff, or an up-done twist out is a good idea.
    But always remember, An employer is not legally allowed to make decisions based on ethnicity, and hair is an ethnic character of people of African descent.
    BTW… I love all these critical comments up here, your readers are such a bunch of brainiacs!

  47. Sorry – the last part of my post got cut off. So to make a long story short – embrace your natural hair. Remember your environment (be conservative when need be) and carry yourself like the strong, black, natural black woman that you are.

  48. I am a professional black woman who works in a very conservative field (medicine) and I have been wearing my hair natural for the last 6 years. It took a lot of guts initially (started with 2 strand twists from braids), but now I wouldn’t have it any other way. When I was interviewing for post medical school training, I took out my braids and straightened my hair because I was told that its the only way that I would improve my chances of getting a residency position. When it was time to interview for a job after residency, I faced the same choice. This time, I interviewed in my natural hair (2 strand twists), managed to get hired and have since locked my hair. Because of my profession, I dress conservatively and style my hair conservatively but I refuse to alter the natural state of my hair to conform to some mainstream ideal. For all of you out there that are struggling with the idea of transitioning or worried about what others may think, hold your head up.
    Embrace your natural hair. Remember your environment (be conservative when need be) and carry yourself like the strong, black, natural black woman that you are. You never know, you just might be the role model that another black woman needs to see to realize that they can make the change also.

  49. Glamour, that blog was a trip! I definitely agree with you about the order, and you’re right, it was both humorous but with some degree of truth. Thanks for sharing.

  50. Thanks anna!

  51. lovingthefro says:

    I too am a professional in medicine. While it was definitely a controversial move, I am at peace with my natural hair. I am blessed to be in a diverse city though. The irony now is the compliments I get when my white colleagues compliment my hair…while black patients are often shocked to meet me when I walk into the room.

    PS Afrobella – I didnt know you were a Hilarian!!! So am I.

  52. All I can say is “Thank the Universe” that a collective consciousness has slowly arisen and evolved with Black women wearing their natural hair proudly. It ‘s a new day; cause rockin the God Given can never be wrong.

    I live in the NYC (a pretty liberal anything goes kinda place) and white people just love my natural hair! Unfortunately; my negative experiences with my natural hair have come from my own people who for the most part still believe that long, straight, BEYAKI, and BLOND FOOLYWANG WIGS and extensions are the ideals of black beauty.

    But progressively, I believe things are changing for the better when it comes to our natural hair and the myriad of ways we can express it.

    But I would like to conclude that every natural person aint down for the cause; and every relaxer ain’t down for the fall. Some natural sisters can get self-righteous; and the permed out sisters can feel the judgement. I would prefer all my sisters to rock their hair natural; but then that would just be me living in some kind of romantic black utopia. Which ain’t never gonna happen. And I’m cool with that. I love Oprah. I love Michelle Obama, I like Beyonce. Those are my sisters no matter how they wear their hair. At this point it’s simply about my own self acceptance and my ability to be as less judgemental as possible.

    In my opinion, wearing natural hair is a liberating choice but it doesn’t mean that you have more intergrity, more consciousness, that you love yourself more, or that you’re more spiritual or blacker than the next chick And that’s real talk.

  53. In regards to where I’m from. Doesn’t matter where I’m from. It matters where I’ve been and what I’ve seen. I am in LA. I’m black. I have a different view from a lot of degreed black people (white people, Latino people…etc), but I don’t think my view is that different if you talk to people who aren’t as fortunate. I’m simply articulating in a language that middle class black people can understand when my black sisters who don’t have internet service are saying when they ask, “Why do you act like a white girl?”

    I’ve gotten that question too, BUT it doesn’t upset me. I’m actually happy to be called out. It lets me know that though lots of my people have been beat down, they still know bs when they hear it. I know exactly what they are saying. I’m not delusional.

    The sisters that ask me “what the heck is up with me” (that happens on a regular basis across racial and gender lines) at least gives me a chance, that’s more than these corporate snakes will give anyone, white, black, brown, male or female.

    http://amadeo.blogsome.com/2007/04/24/dividing-lines-part-2/

    Also I read the above blog’s post. I’ll tell you this, I understand n*g*e’s. I understand exactly why people who are viewed as that act the way they do. They know the truth. And black people, African-American, and black folk should thank their lucky stars for n*g*e’s, because if it weren’t for them we would have been erased along time ago.

    Racism isn’t caused by bad behaivor. People are NOT racist against black people because we’re loud or bad or uneducated. People are racist against black people because they don’t like us because we’re black.

    I don’t think everyone is racist, but I suspects lots of them work in corporate America. I haven’t done a survey, but that’s my guess.

    I meet way too many African-American people who think they behave racism away with the right hairstyle, outfit, and grammar. People truly need to get a clue.

    I’m a little bit of all worlds. I like Duran Duran, but I’ll smack someone in the face after a Vodka tonic, so that’s pretty much who I am.

    Jane

  54. @Jane
    I wasn’t going to respond to your incoherent bloviations, but are you aware that you made absolutely no sense at all. If you got your information from Internet sites, I advise you to do research at the nearest public library or consult some one who knows what they are talking about. First of all, although I do agree that society has constituted various labels for different types of……………………………………………..Jane responsds: You know Daphne the beauty of the world is that we all don’t have to agree. I did not get my info from the internet, I got it from living in the world. As far as me doing some research at the library about me or people who look like me. Well of course I’ll do that, because in general academia has always told the truth about black culture. Amy Winehouse is now the best r and b singer right? The low down is specific only to black men, no other group does that right? What we as an African-American community needs to do is just try a little harder right? Racism is over right? Let me go right now and find the only truth which is housed at the public library in the form of journals, magazines, and books. Daphene I must add this bit, “incoherent bloviations,” isn’ that belaboring the point? I think just saying that my verbal vomit was bloviations would have been enough.
    Jane

  55. @ Daphne and Jane.
    Daphne i agree with what you said. you took the text off my reply(literally i had to rewrite this), but i agree with Jane on this “People are racist against black people because they don’t like us because we’re black.” Many people are racist “just because”. Its ignoranance and hatred and a crap load of stupidity.honestly jane you cant blame Daphne for disagreeing it was weird string of comments.

    NO MATTER WHAT THIS SITE IS AWESOME!
    it makes me want to grow my hair out to 10 feet.

  56. oh.i am never buying that magazine as long as i live and neither will my unborn children. if i get the chance i’ll be writing to Glamour to let them know that. : D

  57. @Jane

    This isn’t a matter of not agreeing with you. The point is your argument was and still is incoherent and most of your information and references are incorrect. Your rebuttal lets me further know that you don’t know what you are talking about. I did not refute the fact that racism is alive and well. I was stating the factual relationship between the hair of people of African descent and the public reception in regards to the choice for black people to wear their hair natural. Amy Winehouse, bad behavior and all the rest of the unrelated points that you brought up just doesn’t make any sense and isn’t connected to your aforementioned argument or the topic at hand; you have completely deviated from the topic if you haven’t noticed. Whatever point you are attempting to make has not been made. I do not frequent Afrobella, but I have not noticed any form of blatant nescience on this site when I do visit. When I read your erroneous statement I was compelled to respond.

  58. If most black women had good hair like your friend and not the nappy rough stuff, we would wear our hair natural more. Biracial people are so lucky. It’s easier and more acceptable for them to go natural. Whites and blacks a like admire the beauty of biracial people but not black people. I’m a dark skinned black woman. The last thing I need is to go natural. Life is hard enough.

  59. Oh Dear God Rachael! GOOD HAIR?!? NAPPY ROUGH STUFF?!?

    Somebody sedate me, no way can I respond to this without the use of multi-syllabic profanity.

    How can you refer to something as fabulous as African-textured hair in such a disparaging manner? Have you ever considered that perhaps the reason life is so hard for you is not because of your skin-color, but because of your negative perception of your beauty?

    This is one of the saddest posts I’ve read in a long time, and I’ve been online for almost ten years. Please, please work on your self-esteem, clearly something went wrong along the way.

  60. Rachel people do admire black beauty. Not boring people who like boring things, but artful people, they can see the beauty in everyone and that’s not some bs kumbaya statement. Not every black woman is beautiful, but there are women who are traditional dark, broad nose, nappy haired women and they are beautiful. 9-5ivers who read corporate magazines aren’t going to think you’re beautiful, because that’s too scary, but you are beautiful. Be natural or permed either way you are beautiful. I was out other night and these men where telling me how hot they thought Serena Williams, these were artist guys (of all races.) A lawyer or a doctor or a person that follows the rules aren’t going to ever truly think the out of the ordinary is beautiful (and black women are out of the ordinary in the US, we’re less than 10 percent of the population and in the mainstream or college, we’re even less.) There are pretty biracial women, white women, asian women, and there are pretty dark black women and not just the “she’s pretty for a dark” girl kind of crap people say. Keep this in mind the the black status quo (the jack and jill, the sorority legacy types, their grandpa went to morehouse types) only wants one kind of girl to be viewed as pretty. They want to keep the rest of the black women under wraps and quiet. That’s why if you say thing like, that dark girl is pretty or that brown skinned girl is pretty you get people jumping down your throat like they are insane. You’re supposed to clean the floor and be lucky that any man wants you at all, you’re not allowed to be pretty. You also better not ever bring it up either. Dark black women have to always be quiet, because if not dark black women aren’t being team players. Screw that mindset. Everyone should get a chance to hit one out the park.
    Jane

  61. Wow Rachael. Part of what Afrobella is advocating on this site is how to love your hair, whatever the texture. I have biracial children. They do not know that some people consider them to have “good” hair, because I teach my children that all hair is beautiful, because it’s all from God, and God don’t like ugly and he don’t make ugly. Nor do all biracial people have the same texture hair. Also, a lot of white people have told me that WE’RE “lucky” –they say, “you guys can do so much with your hair!” I do understand where you’re coming from, most of us who visit this site can, we’ve all heard the same things and still hear it. It can be hard to love what you’ve been told is ugly, but believe me, you can come to love all of you.

  62. And Jane — I don’t try to be controversial, but I do wish to say that I don’t think you lump any group of people together and speak for the whole group. I personally know doctors, white doctors, black doctors, whatever, who think black women are beautiful, too, and not the fine-featured long hair black woman, but just your regular ole’ black woman, and there are many men who in the corporate world who like their woman black and natural. It’s true that many times the ideal of European beauty is the yardstick which is used to measure us, but not all are using that yardstick, even those who wear ties to work every day.

  63. “ave you ever considered that perhaps the reason life is so hard for you is not because of your skin-color, but because of your negative perception of your beauty?” Roslyn

    Jane responds. I don’t think Rachel has a negative perception of beauty. I think as a dark skinned, nappy haired african-american women she is relaying her experience. Why every time someone dark talks about what happens to them people tell them they are being negative? We all know darn well that there are lots of people in the black community that thinks this way. Look at black owned magazines, black produced TV shows, and black owned beauty contests. If a fat woman says people treat her bad because she’s fat, we don’t tell her that she just have a negative perception and she needs to think positive. If a biracial person says people treat them bad because they are biracial we don’t tell them to be more positive. When we tell someone dark they need to be more positive and love themself a little more, it’s like people telling us as black people we need to try harder and then the institution of racism will go away. Can’t we just be honest with each other and stop with the hippie stuff.
    Jane

  64. This is not hippie stuff Jane. The bottom line is, the only person on this planet you control is YOU. And if you let other people’s negative perceptions control how you view your own skin and hair, to the point that you’re willing to put the chemical equivalent of DRANO on your head, then YES, you have a self esteem problem. Rachael said that nappy hair would make her life even more difficult. As if, our Goddess given hair is some type of birth defect. If she feels that way about this and it belongs TO HER. Why in the name of Pete would anyone else feel differently?

    We have no control over the way other people view us, whether they’re racist, colorist, or whathaveyou. But I’ll be damned and double-damned to hell and back before I’ll let their craziness impact me to the point of burning my brains out to conform with their fucked up beauty standards.

  65. I know this comment is going to be funny, but I really appreciate that you offered information on the product your friend uses to maintain her curls. I’ve been faking a natural with a perm (I know it sounds crazy), but I’ve been using Pantene’s Curl Defining Shampoo and a curl activator called Curls Up. One product makes the curls tight and the other keeps them shiny and healthy looking. I’d definitely be interested in trying out the Garnier. Any other recommendations?

  66. I’ve been natural for about 2 years now, and I wear a curly fro to work. I’m an engineer and I have never had any issues with my hair at work. I believe that black people have more of a problem with my hair than white people do. Now I will admit that white people can be a little ignorant about it, with the stupid questions and what not, but I have never felt discriminated against. I’ve interviewed and gotten 2 jobs since I’ve been natural.

  67. Wow — sometimes these comments get so off topic I don’t know where or when to jump back in. I will say this — Rachel, I thought long and hard before posting Jess’s photo because of statements like that. I knew people would look at her and say “she has that “good” hair, so it’s fine for her to be natural.” I personally don’t believe there is a “good” hair, because by that definition there has to be “bad” hair. And your hair is beautiful. What you refer to as “the nappy rough stuff” is beautiful, God given hair. If more women could see that, and stop putting themselves down for their natural physical traits, the wig and weave and relaxer companies would be hurting for sure.

  68. TheBeautifulOne says:

    It’s always been non-Blacks who’ve complimented me on my hair no matter where I am in the world. They have never asked me stupid questions because I like to think that there are no stupid questions. Smart people ask questions to gain knowledge, that’s why they’re smart.

  69. If a firm actually refuses to promote a woman who sports a well-kept “black” hairstyle, I’d say the problem is bigger than can be solved by her changing styles.

    http://kindlypogmothoin.com/2007/08/14/glamour-being-a-black-woman-is-so-out/

  70. Bella, anyone who likes can click on my website to see me in all my nappy-headed glory. I think my hair looks fabulous and nobody’s ever accused me of having ‘good’ hair! (I’d probably slap them silly if they did––what a ridiculous term!) And no, I’m not light-skinded or biracial. Just black and blacker.

  71. Sumatra77 says:

    I have a question…Do you think as black women, we will ever be able to see hair as just that? Hair? Will we ever get to a point where how we wear it is a matter of style and preference, not necessarily politics? Having worn my hair both permed and natural, the more I read about hair issues, the more I wonder just how much time we spend on something that grows back. From these posts, it is something that continuously drives a wedge between black women – both sides self-righteously declaring why we wear our hair the way we do. It’s not like a limb – a leg or foot – which lopped off, can’t be regrown. I am in no way trying to dismiss a painful history, but it seems to me that we spend WAAYYYY too much time on hair. I applaud Afrobella for advocating healthy, natural hair. Like food, the most natural state is perhaps the healthiest, but it is also a matter of individual preference and choice and as a sisterhood we should live and let live.

  72. Sumatra I do agree with you. I think we spend too much time on hair, way too much and many of us spend too much time on the self righteous train. For the vast majority of people on this board, hair is obvious not a political thing, so seriously people should get over it. Black women and their natural hair thing reminds me of these green activist people and their vegan thing. People are dying. The world is exploitative and unfair and they thing, “Well I’m vegan and I’ve done my part.” And seriously those people haven’t done a darn thing. Reminds me of that guy whose wife works for a business magazine, but he doesn’t use toilet paper. That NY Times article a year without toilet paper. I wanted to smack him. Completely delusional in regards to the value of something that in the big picture is completely irrelevant. Hair is just hair and you haven’t seen some special light just because you don’t have a perm. It’s pretty easy to have natural hair when you work and live around people who aren’t black. I said earlier mainstream AMERICAN (I can’t speak on people in the UK or France) people feel natural hair women are safer. Quite a few of you have given me a “white people think my natural hair is rad” statement. I think there is some validity to that statement. I don’t think hanging around non-black environment gives you some kind of self love pill, I don’t think being married to or dating white guys (which 7/10 natural hair women do) makes you like yourself more, so I think it’s something else in the works, but we can pretend as if we don’t see it if you’d like.
    Jane

  73. Jane, I was wondering if the 7/10 thing is a statistic you found somewhere or just a personal feeling. If it’s a verifiable statistic, I’d like to read the article where you found it. How very interesting.

  74. I work in a creative field and yet a few brothers have asked me why do I wear my hair in a natural. I was speechless.

  75. “The bottom line is, the only person on this planet you control is YOU.” Rosslyn
    ____________________________________________
    Jane says, The “only person who control you is you,” is what rich people tell poor people so their houses won’t get burned down. I’m way concerned if someone is taking a dump in my water supply upstream and if I find him I’m going to go to his house and tell him to stop. You don’t live in the world by yourself. Other people impact your life.
    ______________________________________________
    “And if you let other people’s negative perceptions control how you view your own skin and hair,” Rosslyn
    _____________________________________________
    Jane says, why do you think Rachel is letting other people control how she thinks. The woman said her life is hard (owing to the fact that Americans have a problem with 100% dark skinned black women, by the way popped on your site, saw your picture, you’re very cute. You’re brown, not dark. No one made fun of your complexion as a kid right? No one called you darkness or anthing right?) and she didn’t want to make it harder. That sounds like other people do have some kind of conrol on her life. I think lots of people have control over my life. I don’t want them to, but I know they do. If you know the truth you can do something about it.If you wanted to be a doctor and didn’t have a degree, could you will yourself to it, with just positive attitude.

    __________________________________________________
    “Rachael said that nappy hair would make her life even more difficult. As if, our Goddess given hair is some type of birth defect.” Rosslyn
    __________________________________________________
    Jane says, you so are a hippie, who says Goddess. Anyways our hair is obviously not a birth defect, but if people have issues with it on certain people, should we not acknowledge that. As I said earlier, if someone is interracial and they say they have problems owing to their dual heritage we don’t tell them that they are crazy and need to be positive. Why can’t we at least give our dark skinned sisters the same courtesy? I think dark skinned women are very discriminated against in the African-American community and I think that we as women at least should acknowledge it and not just try to wish away that section of African-American culture. It’s real. It has not gone away. The dark skinned black women who talk about it aren’t just imagining things. If they do have low self esteem, it’s probably for a reason and not just that dark skinned black women have mental health issues.

    ___________________________
    The beauty in this issue is that I now see exactly how the institution of racism flourished. People said racism didn’t exist. No one wanted to talk about it. People said that black people were simply pathological. I think it points to the fact that institutional racism can be perpetrated on one group or another regardless of background.
    ____________________________

    Jane

  76. “Bebroma Says: August 27th, 2007 at 11:17 am
    Jane, I was wondering if the 7/10 thing is a statistic you found somewhere or just a personal feeling. If it’s a verifiable statistic, I’d like to read the article where you found it. How very interesting. ”
    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
    Oh lord, you’re so very…. Anyway if you think my comment is bs, just say, “I think you pulled that comment out your butt.”. Anyways if you asked me that I would say, “I obviously pulled that comment out my butt.” …lol…but seriously you know it’s true. I’ve yet to meet a black woman (in LA) who had natural hair that wasn’t hanging with a white guy or a lesbian. I think in NY it’s different, but I should have prefaced that statement with my location. Also I say this from my personal experience. I’m bisexual and I date white guys, so I’m not hating. I’m just calling it as I see it. If you girls pool together and give me money I will take time off from my job and research it…You guys are going to get me fired from my 5th job this year and I haven’t finished stealing all that I can yet. Dude has got this printer to die for.
    Jane
    ___________________________________________________
    “I sold flowers; I didn’t sell myself. Now you’ve made a lady of me, I’m not fit to sell anything else.” Eliza Doolittle

  77. Jane, you are something else, as I’m sure you’ve been told many times in your life :-), and while I don’t always agree with you, I have to say your last post made me smile, and some other ones have also, your turn of phrase can be funny. Afrobella has all kinds visiting, some of us are more earthy than others, I love this site…I just don’t happen to talk that way, that’s all. I tend to be careful with my words with even my very best friends, that’s just how I am. Anyway, seriously, I was just wondering. I live in the plain old Midwest, but Chi-town is in the Midwest, so maybe it’s not all that plain. I don’t live there, just saying. I know we’ve gotten WAY off the subject here. Also, I wanted to say that I did love your comment on the toilet paper guy, I felt the same way. Also, he and all the other people who say don’t buy anything grown more than 100 miles from where you live — what??? Can a sister have an orange? They don’t grow here. And I can’t afford to buy organic. Okay, I need to get back to work myself.

  78. Jane, I have no idea what rich people tell poor people, but that doesn’t change the facts.

    “Jane says, why do you think Rachel is letting other people control how she thinks.”

    Uh, because she said so.

    And yes, people made fun of my complexion, my height, weight, the size and shape of my nose, my lips. I think one guy even insulted my vagina, and a myriad of other factors I have no control over. That’s what people do, especially if you’re female.

    “That sounds like other people do have some kind of conrol on her life.”

    People only have control over your life if you let them. I’ve heard all kinds of nonsense as to why I shouldn’t wear my hair nappy, shouldn’t live where I live, drive what I drive, etc… These people haven’t put not nan grain of food in my mouth. Why the hell would I listen to them?

    “If they do have low self esteem, it’s probably for a reason and not just that dark skinned black women have mental health issues.”

    No one said that dark women aren’t discriminated against. They most assuredly are. Black women as a whole are discriminated against. What I said was, it only becomes a problem if you let it be one. You don’t just swim along in life, you have to take action to deal with what’s thrown at you. This society is so fucked up that if you let what ‘people’ think influence your choices you will wake up one morning looking like Michael Jackson. And I think many of us are just as disfigured, at least on the inside.

  79. All I can say is “Thank the Universe” that a collective consciousness has slowly arisen and evolved with Black women wearing their natural hair proudly. It ’s a new day; cause rockin the God Given can never be wrong.
    I live in the NYC (a pretty liberal anything goes kinda place) and white people just love my natural hair! Unfortunately; my negative experiences with my natural hair have come from my own people who for the most part still believe that long, straight, BEYAKI, and BLOND FOOLYWANG WIGS and extensions are the ideals of black beauty.
    But progressively, I believe things are changing for the better when it comes to our natural hair and the myriad of ways we can express it.
    But I would like to conclude that every natural person aint down for the cause; and every relaxer ain’t down for the fall. Some natural sisters can get self-righteous; and the permed out sisters can feel the judgement. I would prefer all my sisters to rock their hair natural; but then that would just be me living in some kind of romantic black utopia. Which ain’t never gonna happen. And I’m cool with that. I love Oprah. I love Michelle Obama, I like Beyonce. Those are my sisters no matter how they wear their hair. At this point it’s simply about my own self acceptance and my ability to be as less judgemental as possible.
    In my opinion, wearing natural hair is a liberating choice but it doesn’t mean that you have more intergrity, more consciousness, that you love yourself more, or that you’re more spiritual or blacker than the next chick And that’s real talk.

  80. I posted a comment on your other similar post regarding the Glamour comment in order to indicate that a friend of mine wears her hair out naturally in the legal profession. Additionally, I’m a white girl with hair similar to your friend’s (also currently liking Garnier’s soft cream). I never wear my hair tied back in a pony tail, because it always looks silly to me (my face shape? personal preference? dunno) I will wear it in a banana clip. I’ve found that others through law school whether white, hispanic, or black who wore their hair curly did so on interviews as well.

    The curly hair discussion exists on both sides, everyone in my family with curly hair relaxes it and my mother asked me if I blew out my hair for interviews. *sigh*

    Also, at Rachel, my friend that I mentioned above is dark skinned, natural headed and absolutely stunning. But more than that, she’s a great person and intelligent and capable. These things aren’t limited by the color and tone of skin or the texture of your hair.

  81. Christine, not meaning to put you on the spot, but since you said your white. I have a question for you. Most of your black friends do they have natural hair or relaxed hair. When you see a black girl with natural hair what do you think? And when you see a black girl with relaxed hair what do you think? I’m very aware that you’re only one white person and that you’re not speaking for everyone who is white and also I will not judge your answer one way or the other. I’m simply wondering.
    Jane

  82. I have friends with both natural and relaxed hair, probably more with relaxed than not. And honestly, I live in Philadelphia where I think something like fifty percent of the population is African American, I don’t think much of anyone either way based on their choice of hair stylings. With one exception: We have a man who rides a bike around my neighborhood who wears his hair dreaded in colors of all shades of the rainbow, but also tops it off with a viking helmet and wears a large clock around his neck a la Flavor Flav.

    Alas, I might be a bad person to ask about how people pass judgment based on hair as I’m pretty oblivious to hair choices unless it’s died fire engine red and you’re wearing a viking hat to boot.

  83. died, dyed. You get the picture.

  84. I’m going to go out on a limb here and say I doubt if he works in the corporate world.

  85. I work in a very corporate profession (private banking)and I have very long locs to my butt. My hair is also highlighted dark brown and light brown. I do not wear my hair in a ponytail everyday, I do not want weak edges. I do prefer to wear it curly or crinkled pulled back with a headband. What is interesting I am the only African-American woman with natural hair here in the whole building. I have had the occasional questions, and the whole bit, but overall, I get great comments. Personally? I don’t really care, as long as I feel good about myself, I keep it neat, clean and professional people will have to deal with it. Its all in a way a person takes care of herself.

  86. I just wanted to say a quick (but big) THANK YOU to the ladies that posted about having natural hair in the medical field. I happen to be in med school, and I have been natural for almost 4 years now. And I wouldn’t change it! Glad to know I was not the only one that struggled with this hair thing.

  87. “Screw that mindset. Everyone should get a chance to hit one out the park.”
    JaneY

    you guys are going to get me fired from my 5th job this year and I haven’t finished stealing all that I can yet. Dude has got this printer to die for.
    Jane

    LOL, Jane you sure are funny.

    I think what we must keep in mind is that natural hair is looked at differently around the country among black people. Like some of the other women said, during the time I was natural I was complemented non stop by non black people. I found that interesting at the time, and only found out llater that other natural sisters had the same experience. Maybe be because I have one mean stare, and the fact that Baltimore is more liberal my fellow sisters have not said anything negative to me about my natural hair.

    Sisters, instead of judging one another, we should celebrate the fact that we can do so many things with our hair.

  88. Bella,
    Why did you choose a biracial woman to represent natural black hair, especially one with such loosely curled hair? I’m sick of biracial women representing us. Aren’t you aware that light skinned, light eyed biracial women with loosely curled hair such as your friend are perceived differently than dark skinned nappy haired black women such as myself. Your friend’s hair is not afro textured but similar to a curly haired white persons. She needs to stop pretending to be “down” and black. She talks about not conforming to European standards, but with her lighter complexion, light eyes, and loosely curled hair she naturally fits the European standard of beauty to an extent. She needs to be happy that she is biracial and thankful for her looks. I wish I could look like that. All while growing up I was constantly called ugly because of my black features. Not only that, but the messages I received from the media did nothing but further confirm it. As a biracial person I bet she’s never experienced that. I’m sure the cooperate world is not giving her biracial self as hard of a time as it’s giving my black ass. Studies have shown that lighter skinned blacks make more money and are more likely to get hired for jobs. It’s been shown in studies that whites and blacks alike assign more positive attributes such as intelligence and attractiveness to lighter complexioned blacks. I’ve noticed that lighter complexioned blacks or those with more loosely textured hair are more likely to go natural than dark black, broad featured, nappy haired women like myself. I wonder why? Women like myself have enough strikes against us. The closer you are to white the better off you are.

    If you want me to post the studies proving that lighter complexioned blacks are perceived differently and treated better I will. Here’s one: http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2006-08/uog-stm081106.php
    Light skinned or biracial blacks (especially those like your friend) are better off in the corporate world. With her loosely curled non-afro hair, it’s not a big deal if she goes natural.  I wish we could change places. I’m sure she wouldn’t want to be a dark skinned nappy headed woman like myself that grew up being called ugly constantly by black guys and being treated badly.
    Jane, thank you for your understanding. Being dark skinned a black (especially if you have black features) sucks. If I could find a skin bleach or lightening pill to permanently and effectively change my skin color (and not simply leave me with the patchy messed up skin that most women that use it are left with), I would. Tell your friend she’s not a real black woman and I’m sure whites are not treating her that differently. She’s closer to white and will have more privileges and freedom than my black ass will ever have.

  89. Biracial women like your friend are perceived as beautiful in our society. Words can’t express how painful it is to grow up and be labeled as the ugly girl simply based on something you can’t change. Your friend’s a fine one to complain about ignorant comments from others. She doesn’t realize how lucky she is.

  90. Rachael, I’m sorry you’ve had so much pain in your life and people have treated you so badly. Actually, I want to say a lot, but this is just a blog. I haven’t lived your particular experience and been through the things that have caused you to feel the way you do. I’m definitely not light, never was the cute girl, but still, everyone’s experience is different. I just hope you get the healing for your soul that you need. And again, I’m sorry that you’ve been treated so badly. But please know that there are lots of people who don’t feel that way about lovely velvety black skin, full lips, broad noses. Alek Wek might be the exception, some feel she was just hype, but she definitely got some people thinking about what they call beautiful.

  91. One more thing, I just wanted to say that I have a friend whose skin is the color of milk, and she hated it. She prayed for her daughters to be brown. I asked her WHY? Like a lot of people, I couldn’t see it being this big negative. She hated it, and her sister hated it. She said that people could be so mean to her, assume so many things about her, and it hurt her. She said she felt like she was being judged….about something she couldn’t help, couldn’t change. I’m sure it got her some “perks” — let’s be real, but she really did hate it. When her two daughters were born brown, she was so glad. She said now they won’t have to suffer the light girl syndrome. I know this will probably only make you mad, but it’s a true story. But again, we don’t travel another person’s journey.

  92. Wow, Rachael.. you’re wounds are deep, I am going to say a prayer for you. Self love and acceptance is the greatest love you can ever have in this cruel world. How you considered counseling?

  93. Rachel, I edited your post and removed one specific sentence. If you read the FAQ at the top of the page, you’ll notice that I don’t curse on this site. I respect your opinion and you are entitled to it, but I draw the line at you saying what you said, that my friend should shut up and stop complaining. She’s as entitled to her opinion as you are to yours.

    My site’s tagline is ALL shades of beautiful. I’ve featured women with natural hair of a wide variety of skin tones. There’s nothing unnatural about Jessica — if you actually knew her, you’d realize how ridiculous your comments about her “trying to be down and black” sound. She’s a very cool, very smart, good friend of mine. I invited her over for dinner, I asked her what she thought of this issue I was planning to write about, she told me her opinion and experiences, I posted it. Point blank. I’m sorry if my using her photo upsets you, or if you see it as representative of Eurocentric beauty. She’s a friend of mine, I respect her opinion, and good grief I can’t believe I’m even explaining this.

    Rachel, I wish there was something I could say that would take away the feelings that you expressed. I wish I could make you see how beautiful you are. I am sorry that people have made you feel less than that. I obviously don’t agree with your statements, however. I very much believe that black is beautiful, dark skin and black features are gorgeous. Your comment makes me feel like my work isn’t done. I hope somewhere down the road I can say something that will help you on your journey to self-love. If you ever want to talk further, feel free to e mail me at bella@afrobella.com.

  94. Rachael, I don’t think that study is extrapolatable to the population in general. 270 undergraduate students at the University of GA is hardly a credible study.

    If you look hard enough you can find research that supports anything you like. I still maintain that the crux of your problem lies within you, not outside of you. Until you address that, you’re darned right, your life will be hard.

  95. Sweet Annie J says:

    I know one thing: It did get heated up in here! And I too have to respond. First, though Miss Jessica does have curly hair, she is not a good example of curly hair that would be seen as objectionable by corporate America because as it’s been pointed out, she does have a much looser curl pattern (“lighter” features aside), and as many black folk can attest, the looser or “whiter” the hair, the more acceptable. Yet as I write that sentence, acceptable to whom? Black folk would be the majority objecting to nappy, rough stuff hair, obviously because the legacy of slavery. The propaganda, to convince us that we are inferior, is that we in our natural, unadultered state are not beautiful. We should stop buying into the hype. Hype of all kinds, and Rachael I am talking about you. I am your dark-skinned sister. I too was criticized for being dark-skinned, yet maybe unlike you, many people in my family are dark and fine (as we see it), or appreciated all shades of black. So when someone said I was too black, or the media images of what black beauty is percieved to be became overwhelming, I always had someone telling me what was really going on. Now let me tell you: You are beautiful.

    Also, when I say don’t believe the hype, I am also talking to those people who may have the “good hair” and/or lighter skin, you are no better than the rest. We all need to make a concious effort to just be black, and stop the drama The Afro-Latin series the Miami Herald ran is a perfect example. You’ve got obviously black people denying they’re black, or being contemptuous against those that are dark and nappy-headed.

    We are discriminating against ourselves.

    Finally, we should stop judging each other by our hair, hair style, “grade” of hair, shade of black, occupation, education, sexual orientation (getting my Jesse Jackson on), or the color of the person standing beside us. Do you love yourself and do you love black people?

  96. First, the site listed on this post is Korean, not Japanese. Not that it matters. African American hairstyles have been mimicked by both cultures for years. It is not uncommon to see you men and woman sporting braids and dreads.
    Also, did anyone notice that the faces on many of the pictures have been blurred to disguise identities of the clients? Also, pictures are listed under the “Nappy/Special Hair” section. Um thanks.

    That being said, I wear my hair natural. It’s now a short sassy fro. But I used to wear it curly and down to my butt. I work for a conservative law firm and thankfully it’s never been a problem. Although in college I did have people asking if they could touch my hair or how I combed it.
    Black people are still not represented in mainstream media. So while we know so much about white people, they know very little about us. This is one of the main reasons we face so much ignorance.

  97. Afrobella – your friend Jessica is a beautiful person, apparently inside and out. Her opinion added to the story and is a point of view I agree with. But I too think her picture detracts from the story – her natural style isn’t the kind that people think of when they hear that awful Glamour editor refer to inappropriate corporate hair. Plus, the model or actress (is she?) at the top is wearing shortly cropped hair, which I think is more widely accepted in the corporate world. I respect your editorial decisions, but perhaps different pictures (or none at all) would have been less distracting and would have enhanced the argument that the wide variety of natural styles – including dreads, large beautiful ‘fros, … – are and should be worn by professional Black women.

  98. I think on the Asian site the faces were blurred because as black women (and white women) with fake hair and dreads want people to think it’s real, Asian women with nappy hair want people to think it is real. Yeah we all know it’s not, but it’s fun to pretend.——————————————
    I think the reason that women with more european features do better is because the black community is more supportive of them, because black people thinks that it makes a difference to white people. I don’t know if white people look at a dark black woman and a light black woman and think one is better or not, but I know black people really think that is true….———————- I remember I had a friend and she had a brother, her brother was fair with wavy hair and she was darker with more African features. They were both smart, but the family was working class. The family spent all of their time and effort on the boy. Reason being, they felt in America, white people would favor and give the lighter skinned child more breaks then his more nappy haired sister. That’s not a story from the 1950s, that’s a story from the 1980s. That boy did grow up to work to go to the top schools in LA and work as a lawyer and become a producer of major popular TV shows and the girl ended up on drugs somewhere……………..What does that say? I don’t know, I’m just saying what I’ve seen and presenting it………………………….White people may have started the light and dark thing, but we sure have done a great job at finishing it off………………..Sometimes I think we as minorities sort of help alot in self hate by not acknowledging it’s existence. I remember once my Asian friend told me how ugly she was, because of her little eyes (with no eyelids) and her roundish body. Her sister was the pretty one in this particular Asian culture. Her sister had big roundish eyes, fair skin and a skinny small boned body. My friend would lament for hours, even said I would have an easier time in Asia owing to my pretty round eyes and skinny small boned body……….Now I realized something that when she was around Asian people really did think the girl was ugly. They even came up to me and ask me why was I hanging with such an ugly girl. I was told things in regards to parties that most of the people were Asian that I was invited, but to bring one of my pretty friends, not the ugly one (referring to my friend.) If we went to Asian clubs, guys didn’t really ask her to dance or buy her drink or anything, but you know she did carry that with her to places that people did think she was hot. Chick ended up going out with this piece of crap guy who pretty much was a major sl*t. Used all of her money and used her. She truly thought she could do no better………………these two girls that I grew up with in Hollywood, still make me sad. We really are mean to each other…………………the only way the black community is going to stop the cycle of dark skinned black women being treated like trash is to acknowledge that it happens and that’s it’s not right. Let’s not try to minimize it and act like we’ve experienced the same in the black community, no it’s not the same. Being called a “white girl” isn’t the same thing as people calling you nasty names because your dark every single day. I’ve seen little dark skinned girls get talked about. It’s a brutal ugly thing to witness a little 6 year old being told by a bunch of kids her age how ugly she, with fun little songs and taunts, and then to look at her parents and to look at her family members and to know they think the same thing.
    Jane

  99. Sweet Annie J, I agree with a lot of what you said. I too think the angst and expressed opinions we can face in the work place with natural hair might have been better visually represented by a kinkier curl pattern. That for the on-topic discussion. :-]

    For the off-topic, as stated, we need to stop judging each other. I’m not light, don’t have loosely curled hair. But we’re wrong if we think all our lighter sisters think they’re better. There are definitely those out there, but there are also those, like my friend, feel that they are judged as thinking that they’re better, or that they can’t relate to the black experience, or whatever, because they are light. Or dark with straighter hair. Or whatever! Like you said, we need to stop assuming and critizing, and embrace how varied we are. I don’t think there is any other race in the world that can lay claim to such diversity within itself. If we could only shake off the legacy of slavery, where how we treat each other is really masterminded by those who owned us, we can truly enjoy all our beauty and wonderfulness. Loving the dark doesn’t mean hating the light, and vice versa.

  100. Justme and Sweet Annie J — that’s the dilemma of always wanting to post a photo with an article. I always post a photo with each post, and I had a damn hard time finding photos of professional women with natural hair to go with this piece to begin with. I’d love any of you to send me photos that could go with such a post, so the next time I won’t be inadvertently stirring up this hornet’s nest of emotion based on pictures of people I’m friends with.

  101. One more thing. In regards to black people not liking natural hair. I liked to think of my grandmother, my American one from Mobile, Alabama. She was an awesome lady. Granny hated my hair, hated, hated it. She didn’t hate it because she hated black people or culture. She loved black people. Everything I know about black America I learned from granny, but my hair. The reason she hated my hair was because she thought I was going to end up homeless owing to the style. She would say, “You got a degree, you talk good, you’re a pretty girl, you could be one of those models or lawyer type people, but you got to fix your hair.” Granny only read Ebony, Jet, the Readers Digest, and the Sears Catalog. In order to be successful she thought you had to have successful hair. My dreads aren’t socially acceptable manicured dreads, they are some real dreadlocks, like the kind I’d think the people who killed Jamaican tourism for awhile might have had……….I don’t think she hated my hair because she hated black people or African textured hair. I think she hated my hair because she was afraid of what would become of me if I didn’t learn to play the game. She felt all I had to do was be good and I could be world famous like an actress or something. She had big dreams for me. She said that I had a personality. Keep in mind my granny was born in 1910 she lived to be 93 years old. I think she would think about how her brothers had gotten lynched, slavery, and jim crow and all kinds of things and she knew happened to people who didn’t conform and since she loved me she didn’t want horrible things to happen to me. I think she suspected that I was a bit hard headed and that if she could at least get me to look the part, maybe people wouldn’t notice the other stuff…lol…
    Jane

  102. Jane, I was best friends in jr. high with a Chinese girl — EXACT same experience. She hated her eyes. Even now, there’s the big debate among Asian women — should they get the lid surgery to get the round eyes, or not? My friend would almost be in tears about her eyes — from her own people — and from other people asking stuff like — can you see the same? Whatever.

    And you’re right. That’s what I was saying about the legacy of slavery. They started it, but we perpetuate it. My children are way lighter than me. But I know that all this stuff starts with us now and stops with us. SO, I try really hard to teach them that dark is pretty and so is light, same with straight/curly/kinky. I don’t want them to not like themselves because they aren’t dark. Basically, I just try to teach them that dark/light straight/curly/nappy WHATEVER is not better or worse, just different. I hope I’m successful, that remains to be seen. I mean, we don’t sit around all the time philosophizing about it, there preschool and grade school, for goodness’ sake, but I firmly believe if we step up and start with our children, we can change things. The story about the 6-year-old makes me so sad and angry. Because those boys learned that somewhere, and sad to say, it was probably in our community.

    I’m going to have to put myself on an Afrobella diet, I think. I need to click on the keys and make some money and stop the extracurricular clicking.

  103. ” But we’re wrong if we think all our lighter sisters think they’re better.” belbroma…………………..Jane says: I don’t think anyone said that. No one thinks that lighter skinned women think they are better. We said that dark skinned black women are treated worse in the African-American community and I think this is true. I don’t believe in the pain is relative thing. I think dark skinned women are treated worse and it should be said and not corrected and not minimized. No one does that to biracial women in regards to them saying they are treated bad in regards to some aspects of their life, no one gets on the horn and say monoracial black women are treated badly too. No one does that to fat women, no one gets on the horn and says skinny women are treated bad too. There are whole boards dedicated to those topics and no one ever disrespects or minimizes anyone’s pain, except the dark skinned black women’s pain. Dark black women are treated badly by black people and it’s not right and I add no buts to that statement.
    Jane

  104. Belbroma,
    I wasn’t meaning to be an ass with my last statement. I was just trying to restate what I was saying and yours happen to be a good post to bounce off of.
    Jane

  105. “Also, when I say don’t believe the hype, I am also talking to those people who may have the “good hair” and/or lighter skin, you are no better than the rest.”

    I guess I took that comment to mean that some people do think that lighter-skinned people they think they’re better.

    I wasn’t trying to minimize darker-skinned people’s pain. It took me a lot of growing up to accept myself. I used to pray to be lighter. I remember reading a story when I was in second grade about a girl who scrubbed her skin with Ajax, trying to get lighter, and all she got was redder and some serous physical pain, and I totally related. And I’m not dark-dark, just I guess on the low end of the medium dark spectrum. If you felt I was trying to minimize the whole dark woman thing, I’m sorry that it was misconstrued that way. I’m not trying to buy into the whole “tragic mulatto” thing, either. I guess I’m just a mom on top of everything else, and I worry about my girls and their experience, too. Which will be different from mine, for a lot of reasons.

  106. Hey, Jane. I didn’t take it that way at all. Actually, I’m really starting to enjoy your posts….my personality is a lot different from yours, I think, and at first I was like WOW. But you have a lot of valid points, and a lot of experiences that actually I can relate to. The grandma thing, for one!

  107. “I guess I took that comment to mean that some people do think that lighter-skinned people they think they’re better.” Bebroma
    ____________________________________________________
    I think that’s an African-American woman trait, regardless of how screwed African-American women get, they always want to be fair. Black women don’t want to talk about what happens to them, because that’s taking away from time that someone who isn’t as strong (in a black woman’s mind) could be talking about themselves. Sometimes I think black women have a bit too much empathy. I think it probably goes back to slavery times. I mean that was still less than 150 years ago. Our people have been slaves longer than they have been free, at least in the US. The master is first and his feelings, then the master’s kids and their feelings and then your man and his feelings and then your kids and their feelings and if there is a little bit left, maybe you can throw yourself a bone. White women have support boards, biracial women have support boards, big women have support boards, single women with kids, homeschoolers, transgendered people, but not really black women. That’s just not acceptable to be seen as wallowing, but it’s not wallowing, it’s standing up for yourself. If you don’t tell people to get off you they forget that your back is not a stepping stool, in fact you forget that your back is not a stepping stool. In regards to black women support boards it is always in the form of a beauty board (i.e. hair, make up, etc) that way we can support each other without being too self-indulgent about the real pain. Anyways we have to get up every once in awhile to remind people that we’re human beings and not robots.
    (I like bringing up slavery, because I had a friend from China that didn’t know about it and after I explained he understood this country a lot better. There are lots of new immigrants than don’t know, I like to let them know. The US tries to minimize slavery and it’s impact on black people and that is a little bit of b.s., People go aren’t you over that? No, I’m not over the slavery thing. I’m still pretty pissed about that. I’m a jerk, so sue me.)
    Jane

  108. There’s a single mother support board? I will have to look into that.

    I think “getting over” slavery is impossible. We are a matriarchal society — why? Because of slavery. The fact that as a community we do not support each other financially and in other ways as other minority groups do — a legacy of slavery. I do not believe that you can erase 300+ years of dehumanization, etc., from our collective conscious in the less than 150 years it has been abolished. Never mind that the whole civil rights movement was less than 50 years ago. Whenever I think about black male soldiers coming back to this country after WWII and having fewer rights than prisoners of war from countries like Germany (there are recorded instances where black soldiers stood outside in the sun while POW German POWs sat in air conditioned comfort eating ice cream) — there are just no words. And people do forget all those things, especially if it didn’t/doesn’t affect them directly. A human failing, I think. Let me get back to work.

  109. stephanie says:

    Thank you for your article on curly hair in the office. I am not African-American, but I do have wavy/curly/frizzy hair (part of my Jewish heritage) that has looked messy all my life. I generally like my hair, but at job interviews or important meetings, I always feel unpolished compared to the straight-haired women. I resent the fact that straight hair is seen a sensible, professional, and “cool” and curly hair is seen otherwise.

    If I had a lot of hair, I’d be able to smooth it with products like your friend Jessica (whose hair looks perfect to me; just the look I’m trying to achieve). Unfortunately, I just don’t have a lot of hair so products often just make me look like a greaseball.

    Anyway, I will just consult with my stylist about it, but I just appreciate the topic. I never knew anyone had the same issues than me about this. It’s refreshing.

  110. stephanie says:

    Oh, and that editor from Glamour can go jump in the lake. How ignorant!

    As a P.S., an African-American friend of mine wears her hair naturally and I was shocked to discover that her choice is often considered “political”, not just by white people, but by other African-Americans.

    There’s enough room for different styles and choices!

  111. I just want to say, since I have to pretend to work since I’m sitting in front of a computer. My hair is political. My clothes are political. My art is political. Everything I do is political, BUT that being said, everyone who looks sort of like me isn’t political. I learned that the hard way. I get kind of bummed really. I see a black woman with dreads and I get all excited, like I get excited when I see a white woman with tattoos and a mohawk or an asian woman with a bald head I automatically think. “This woman gets it, she is on my team,” but then it turns out she’s some corporate type, because now looking crazy is completely ok and then I’m all bummed. I feel like I’m being teased. I feel like getting a perm and wearing a suit, since now it’s socially acceptable to have dread or an afro and tattoos and piercing in the corporate arena (especially if you’re in the arts, in LA.) You trendy corporate types have taken all of the fun out of being unique :) People want to promote me and give me jobs at museums were people can see me, it all kind of sucks really. I don’t want a job. I don’t want people to talk to me. I want to scare people. No one thinks I’m scary anymore. How can I bitch about the system if I’m part of the system? People want to put me in commercials to sell stuff. I’m going to have to turn up the volume ;)I’m going to get a sensible bob and wear a 1930s dress that covers me up from my neck to my knees with tights and pratical shoes. Where can I buy a pressing comb at_________Jane

  112. I justr discussed this very subject on http://www.nappturality.com, having just recently interviewed for a senior financial analyst position with a leading bank. Here’s what I said:

    “I got a call a few weeks ago from a former colleague about an open sr. analyst position at her current employer. I got a call that evening from her manager asking me to come in for an interview the next day. That’s right, no time to do a fierce twistout. So I washed my hair that morning and attempted to create my neat puff with a stretchy headband as I’ve done countless times before. As Murphy’s Law would have it, it was fuzzy and sticking out in all the wrong places, and the headband wouldn’t sit right. I took a comb, brush and spritz bottle with me to work so I would have a chance to fix it later. I had about 3 minutes after work to do something with my hair before my interview at 6 pm.

    One week later I got the job, with a (very much needed) $12K raise. With a messy puff. That experience helped me to see that confidence, a fly suit, good conversation and your skills are what should speak for you in an interview. If they had decided not to hire me because of my less-than-perfect puff, then that wouldn’t be a place I’d want to work at anyway.”

  113. Black Honey says:

    How did we go from whether or not nappy hair can be professional to light skin/ dark skin thing?

  114. Because it’s easily connected. Nappy hair, “good” hair, light skin/ dark skin. Who is ok. Who is not. It’s all connected don’t you think. Why do you think people have a problem with nappy hair in regards to being professional, it’s not because blue bloods wear their hair like that. Jane

  115. I agree with Jane’s explanation, but I gotta say — Black Honey, I wondered the same thing. Don’t get me wrong, there’s definitely a wealth of valuable, on point information that commenters have shared here. But we’ve also drifted from what I thought the discussion was going to be. But I’m learning from all of it. It’s given me a lot to think about, on top of the nothing-to-do-with-afrobella stuff I’ve been dealing with this week.

  116. You would be suprised to know that in the Trinidad of 2007, people watch you funny in the workplace when you rock an afro.
    And you (I) continuosly get comments like “So you’re just letting it grow?”…”So what are you going to do next with it?”…
    I actually think the reverse is true now, where people respond more positively to dreds than to someone with an afro.

  117. Choice is a wonderful thing, and we should stop contributing to racism. If a sister wants to wear her hair curly or straight, that is her choice, and she should not judged by Corporate America or others. I think those who have already stated, that the appearance of cleanness and neatness make all the difference.

    As a puerto rican/black woman, with naturally curly hair, that I sometimes flat iron, and sometimes just add mousse, depending on how I feel recognize everyone doesn’t have that option.

    I have seen some of my sisters with some hair-dos that make me turn my head, from the various colors they dye their hair, or add to their hair, to “waterfalls,” to “french rolls,” that are literally large as a loaf of wonder bread. These hair-do’s are meant to grab attention, sometimes that attention will not be positive. In regards to dreads, twist, and braids, the only thing I don’t understand on some people is the hair pointing in 25 different directions, it does look strange, and dreads that are not fresh often do look like unkept dreads.

    Just an opinion.

  118. Hi everyone, this is my first time ever on this site and I think is great. I am an original ConcreteLoop.com gossip queen. And I found this site thru ConcreteLoop. I am responding, becuase I find myself in the same situation at my workplace. I am a Teller for an Credit Union and I never have been questioned about my hair. I just started growing my hair naturally because I want to grow into dreadlocks. At first I tried getting weaves to hide my process, but then I found it too expensive. So I am now going without weaves. I keep my hair as neat as possible and I flat iron it once a week after I wash it. Thats the only way I can get into a ponytail. I asked my boyfriend did he think I still look professional, because I felt weird at work. Even though it has never been an issue. This article satisfies that gut feeling that I have in my workplace. Thank You so much!!!! I can now relax at work with my BIG but NEAT HAIR

  119. great post & great site!

  120. I can’t believe the level of ignorance, though I remember it from living the States. I am Jamaican and live and work in Europe. I have meetings all the time with CEOs in the pharmaceutical industry and politicians at the EU and UN. I also rock a big ass Afro and that’s after 10 years of rocking a baldy. I refuse to conform!

    As Bob sey, some of wi need to “Emancipate ourselves from mental slavery” especially if we buy into the need to change who we are for a job. You have to demand respect in corporate America or they will have no incentive to treat you with respect.

  121. I think we are overlooking the major point of the Editor’s words. She stated “Political”.

    Please understand this. The foundation of OUR hair being a problem for White Corporate America has nothing at all to do with Corporate fashion protocols, but has everything to do with Black people showing signs of “African/Black identify, unity/togetherness in anyway. When we wore Natural Afros and greeted one another as “Brother and “Sister” so much so that we were deemed “Afro” Americans by Whites in this Country. This was a major problem for them. The natural way we wore our hair translated into unity and genunine love and concern we once had for one another. This, in the eyes of White America, White Corporate America is political. Three or more Black corporate employees standing at the water cooler talking is Political, and believe or not, there are Black people in corporate America who wouldn’t get caught dead talking to more than one Black person at work. Recently on the Michael Baisden Show, he asked, regarding the Jena 6 situation, why do Black people not care about the suffering of Black people anymore? My answer to that is because we no longer identify with one another anymore. We are no longer “Afro” Americans. We are Perm-American, Weave-Americans, Extension-Americans, Dye-Americans, Relaxed-Americans, and Corporate Americans. So, when a beautiful Sister such as my wife is seen out in public with her mini Fro, she is looked at by other Sisters as if she is fresh off the Slave Ship as if to say, “You better STOP wearing your hair the way GOD intended, you’re making us look bad around the good White folk”. WE are far better slaves by choice than our ancestors who were by force. The Black hair care industry is a 15 billion dollar industry, but before you applaud, this industry is controlled by Koreans not by the Black woman and man. Yes, Madame CJ Walker is crying in her grave. The Koreans have a great deal more reason to thank her than we do. What the Editor said implies far more than you think. Black women “going back Home” will negatively affect a 15 billion dollar industry, thus it is very political and they will stop you with the threat of losing your “job” or not getting the “job”.

  122. I was confronted with a question by a student. ‘Why do you wear your hair out like that?’ ‘Like what’, I said, she says, ‘like that’. She was staring at me the moment I step into the classroom and just felt the need to ask me the question after class. Almost everyday for class I rock a fro, a big one. This student is a black female & to a certain extent I wasn’t shocked. I still haven’t said anything to her and then she asks me ‘aren’t u embarassed coming into class with your hair looking like that?’ And I’m thinking to myself….again with the ‘like that’. At that point I didnt have any patience for this individual. I just look at her & walked off, people like that don’t deserve answers because if she was smart & know her history she would already know the answer. I reached a point in life where I’m comfortable with my hair, I know what I’m standing up for & at the end of the day just comfortable with myself. Its stupid questions individuals like her ask that bothers me, especially coming from a black person who thinks that its an embarrassment to come out the house with an afro or with a natural hair style period.

  123. LBellatrix says:

    I am majorly late on this discussion but…

    I have always said: Not all natural hairstyles are appropriate for all work environments, but your natural HAIR is ALWAYS appropriate for ANY environment (unless you’re in a relaxer commercial). I have yet to see a work environment in which a TWA wasn’t acceptable…but unfortunately we all know that most sisters don’t have the guts to wear their hair that short. (In almost 12 years of natural life, I’m currently wearing a TWA for, maybe, the sixth time.)

    I worked in corporate America for 17 years, the last 9 with natural hair in all kinds of styles INCLUDING dreadlocks. And I NEVER EVER had a problem…not only did they not censure me, or threaten to fire me; they PROMOTED me (and paid me accordingly). And I have what I call “classic nappy” hair: the kind no one has ever mistaken for “good” hair.

    The only people who had issues with my hair on the job were black people in general and black women in particular but — and it still pains to say this — I only had to work for a black person once in those 9 years and HE didn’t have a problem with my hair. And I am THANKFUL for that.

    I am SICK AND TIRED of black folks passing off inferiority and self-subjugation as a cultural necessity in 2007. If some of you want to believe that you aren’t good enough to wear your God-given hair like 90% of the planet, fine…just get out of MY face about it. Personally, I’m trying to live as a FREE HUMAN BEING.

    *Ms Nappy Nazi has spoken! SIEG HEIL! *rolls eyes*

  124. LBellatrix says:

    Okay, I’ve got one more thing to say on this subject:

    When I first went natural, I had black folks asking me: “They let you wear your hair like that?” My response: “I wasn’t aware I had to ask their permission!”

    Has it ever occurred to anybody that it’s not really UP to white folks how you should wear your hair? Again, this speaks to power and freedom…two things that, sadly, seem to be in short supply these days.

    Stop giving up your power. Start claiming your freedom.

    *okay, I’m out for real now*

  125. design diva says:

    Cosign with lbellatrix! We keep rejecting what God has given us, in order to please man who has given us nothing…it’s kind of like saying to God, our Creator, who has created lakes, mountains, flowers, trees…everything that is beautiful and complex, and telling him, “Lord you f’ed up my hair, and you made my skin too dark!” IMO

  126. design diva says:

    You may as well make yourself happy. No matter what you do, you’ll never please everybody. White ppl are going to think what they want to think about us anyway.

  127. Nothing like skin color to get black women going. A lot of sisters can talk about this topic for days. I saw that someone was trying to take this conversation their in the Michelle Obama post but thank God no one stepped into the ring. I knew it wasn’t over though.

    I had a Aunt who every holiday would take the conversation to the talk about family members who were color struck and who was what complexion.

    2007 black women hating the color of their skin is so sad. What you see as unatractive is the very thing that others think is your standout feature. If only we had worked through our issues following slavery(like the Jews did following the Holocaust)then maybe we would be somewhere else right now.

  128. i have a lot of ambivalence about the hair debate sparked by the Glamour editor’s faux pas that is going on. one reason for this is because my mother my sister my wife myself and my father do not have hair like those two women in the blog above. i am also aware that there is a lot of politics in our community about the diversity of hair and the values attached to it. apparently the closer to europe it is the more favourable it is considered whilst the closer to afrika the less favourable it is. at least that’s my experience. in other words, black hair is not all the same and the experiences of black people regarding hair are not all the same. i therefore think the debate should be broadened to include eurocentrism and the embeddedness of white supremacy and the impact that this is having on us as a people where ever in the world we live and operate. by the way i am quite comfortable with the physical diversity of our community. if white people are still having a problem with black peoples image in this day and age and attempting to manipulate our behaviour in such a way that we should be more like them then god help us, and i’m not a believer. i can only hope that the strong ones in our community prevail. in my view the issue is how do we as a people disengage from this eurocentric brainwashing and liberate ourselves from mental slavery. white people will always say what they want. it is time for us to to stop being reactive and start being proactive and setting the criteria for the debate.

  129. I am a lawyer and have worked as a law clerk in 2 east coast federal courts of appeals and the leading law firm in an east coast state. It does not get more conservative than that. I have worn my hair natural in the workplace for years. I did lots of up-dos, neat twists and braids, a giant, single afro-puff. I have gone to federal and state courts in natural hair representing corporate and individual clients. A classmate who worked at Cleary, the same law firm where this event took place, wore all sorts of natural hair styles as she transitioned from a relaxer to natural hair (big-chop fro, twists, braids, starter-dreads, dreads). Other black women there that I met through my friend also wore natural styles. I’ve been to this law firm for meetings, social events and met women at bar functions from this firm with natural hair styles. Of course not every black woman there wore natural – many wore relaxed hair – but at least for the time my friends were there, they had no problem wearing natural hair. I sent my friend the article and she confirmed that she had no problem wearing natural hair there. The key to surviving in this environment is being an attorney who could deliver for her clients. Just remembered something else regarding gender and hairstyles: a male summer intern that my firm hired wore beautiful dreads. And he had a distinctive “so-called black name.” He did very well, and was offered a permanent position as an associate, which he kept for 3 years, until he moved to another state. IMHO and in my very small sample population, as long as the worker is competent, people move on and no longer notice “THE HAIR.”

  130. Most law firms have photos of their attorneys on line. I just did a search at Cleary Gottleib’s site (A through B only) clicking on women’s names and found a sister wearing a natural style. Did not do the entire firm – the firm has hundreds of attorneys. Might be others with natural there if you have time to waste clicking on head shots. Am aware that photos are not updated everytime someone changes her hairstyle. Shout out to the sister I came across (A through B only) who made partner at Cleary. Much respect to you and all the other sisters and brothers who made partner.

  131. hey everybody … enjoying the discussion. hair and weight are always super hot topics and we can’t be afraid of the heat. we just have to go their and be clear and talk truth. truth is i wear my rough and nappy hair out a lot – i twist it an then take it out. maybe i’m not doing it right. but it really seems to disturb people. i guess it’s the outness and since it’s not a neat fro, there’s an undefinedness to it. it makes me feel really self-conscious and often downright ugly because there isn’t enough positive coming back at me. now if i lived in brooklyn, i might feel less isolated but i don’t. plus i am 30-something and professional, so sometimes i get the impression that this is osmething i should have gotten out of my system in college. but that now i should just relax and settle down, if you know what i mean. but now is when i’m ready to rock it out, you know. my kind of hair is often described as “wild,” “fabulous” or “cool” but i’m not a performer or a diva. i’m a teacher. the thing is that the standards weren’t made with my hair do in mind. if i were a hip hop star well then… but i’m not. professionalism is all about restraint — of emotions, clothing, everything is supposed to be toned down. and curly hair or natural nappy black hair or even certain body shapes – large breasts, for example, just violates the norms. there are variations in certain professions but i think professional life is very sort of Gappy, JCrewish, i.e., middle-of-the road and not standing out. but we just always stand out – we leave neon footprints (as one writer put it) so we have to learn to deal with that reality and manage what we’re going to do. hair gets into the deep recessses of what makes us feel beautiful or disgusting – accepted or rejected. it’s your body and it’s with you. sometimes i feel like people are talking about my pubic hair. you know, that’s how exposed i feel. and whether we have rough and nappy or the various curly kinds of hair, we have all been made to feel disgusting or beautiful based on racialized/sexualized ideas about our hair – recall the whole ‘nappy-headed hos’ comment. if you’re over these issues good for you but i’m tired of being tough. i’ve been hurt by the feeling of rejection i have because i don’t fit the profile. i’m working on sort of accomodating the profile and making sure my mind and hair and all else is healthy. there is a lot at stake when it comes to how we present ourselves at work. and it’s annoying when your job isn’t as much accounting, as it’s being black. you know…like if oh, let’s for fun imagine michelle obama going natural. the woman would have to spend all her time talking about her hair the way hillary has to talk about her pantsuits.
    when there’s an evening news network anchor – which i think reflects the standards of mediocrity and nice, conservative, non-disturbing appearance and speech patterns – with any kind of black natural hair then it’s clear we can go do whatever we want. but for now, i think you just can’t be naive and you have to know the culture of your profession and sort out for yourself how you’re going to function in it and don’t look back unless you feel like you want to change professions or it’s serving you. it isn’t fair for a free-lance writer who has sort of tight curly hair and bronze skin to say to someone like rachel, well, it’s up to you to just believe in yourself and stop being a victim. who feels it knows it. meaning that free-lance or casual office person doesn’t know what the rough-haired law student or medical doctor or professor–oh yes, professors have to deal with this crap too–is up against. so within this community we have to understand and empathize with struggles that some of us have out there. and frankly, i think a little bit of humility and vulnerability would go long way to resolving these issues on the deeper personal levels. all to say, rachel, i feel you. you are not crazy. you are not oversensitive. we have more work to do to accept ourselves on certain levels because the culture doesn’t give us a pass the way it seems to others. at the same time, the media makes everyone feel bad so it shouldn’t be taken too too seriously after a point. you gotta sort out how you’re going to fall in love with yourself and take care of your body and present yourself to yourself in a way that makes you feel pretty. think about living in a more diverse area, finding a new circle of friends–or having a professional photographer make creative photographs of you, so he or she can help you see yourself. or move to paris! which, historically has done so much for New World black women although there is a dark side to that… beauty isn’t all fun and games. it attaches to deep personal and social issues for everybody

  132. I really like that idea about having a professional photographer make creative photos….I think that would be a marvelous way for Rachael to see her physical beauty from an outside perspective.

  133. I don’t think anything she said misrepresented the truth about the corporate world, but it was not applicable to the legal field where all those diversity commitments are actually followed for fear of a litigation.

    I happened to relax my fro a few days before the article came out. I was told that I would regret it. I don’t so far. I’ve never mastered the art of hair maintenance so while my relaxed hair is still pulled up, it’s easier for me to maintain and I can actually go to salons to get my hair done now. All the ones near me “don’t work with that texture.” The only place I could get my hair done before was a Brazilian place and they did my relaxer too.

    Do what you want with your hair. I pick ease above all else and since having the relaxer, I spend a lot less time thinking about and doing my hair. If I lived on the west coast where there seems to be more natural hair places with great experts and less humidity in general, I probably wouldn’t have made that decision.

  134. I just recently began wearing my hair in its natural state (though I am transitioning). I LOVE it. And I work in one of the big 4 companies – way conservative. I get compliments nearly everyday. People constantly want to touch it (no). I’m tall – about 5’10″ so I know that means I look fierce when it’s out in its full glory. Plus, it matches my face in a way relaxers never did. Amazing. I spent years getting my hair rodded to try to look sort of like this – and this looks great all on its own.

    I finally realized that I can do things with my hair that no one else can (well, no other non-black people). It makes me feel beautiful to rock my natural hair and it’s so easy. Even the transitioning is easier because of all of the natural hair at the root growing in. I will never go back to a relaxer and I dare anyone to tell me my hairstyle is not ‘professional’. What I love most is that other women can get fake tans, they can get butt implants and they can get lip injections – but they still can’t get our REAL hair texture – not even with those fake afro perms. Our hair texture varies all over our head for a special uniqueness you can’t get from perms. I say we embrace our natural hair – finally something they can’t take away from us. Something that makes us supremely unique and beautiful. Imagine if all sistas rocked the curly fro or another natural style. Talk about making a statement.

  135. BlackNProud says:

    Last week, I went to meet with some people about a job. As I was waiting for the elevators a white guy approached me and said: ” I love your hair. I wish my hair looked like that.” Now me with my curly fro (or that’s what it looks like to the untrained eye) nodded and smiled. To me this is a regular occurence.

    I will NEVER change my natural hair!!! I see a more respectful side of people (of all races) when I have my hair natural. As some people were stating on this post, I belive that not only non blacks but blacks as well have ideas of what natural vs. non natural relates to. I get compliments on the street, when I go to meeting in corporate america (and I mean the big dogs!!) or when Im hanging out on the streets. Usually blacks, whites and asians are most receptive while many (not all) LATINOS are still hung up on the “trying not to be associated with black” approach.

    Now sure, Im not saying that people dont stare at my hair at interviews or meetings but because of my confidence, background and experience they quickly look past the hair and get to the business at hand: are you qualified?

    I say as long as you are true to who you are, you rock your hair FIERCE and you stay positive, YOU WILL GET WHERE YOU NEED TO GO!!

  136. I constantly point out (as proof of passive racism) the fact that once a black man’s hair is an inch or more his hair is no longer “professional”. Or more to the point, how come black man are the only people who have to get basically scalped to be acceptable.

  137. Going natural is the best thing ever! I have never felt more beautiful. The funny thing is that the hair I was trying to hide is admired and biblical. I get more compliments than ever. I am currently stationed in Baghdad, Iraq and the colored women here are falling apart due to lack of creamy crack. There are not many salons here and the ones we have do not cater to relaxed/natural hair. The water here is really hard and I see relaxed hair all over the bathroom floor daily. I understand and respect that we have a choice to be straight today and afro-ish tomorrow but, at what point do we consider the health of our scalp? To be honest the military is a male dominated profession where most of the men I speak with prefer women that have a natural beauty meaning no fake nails, weaves, extensions, etc. I have had so many men thank me and comment on my natural beauty because they are so tired of seeing the typical, short, damaged, broken-off, head of relaxed hair. In regards to profession, natural hair is very professional and attractive. I imagine if biblical scriptures mention a crown of hair that looks like wool—it must be beautiful!!!!! “Erase the kinks from your mind, not your hair”. Not sure who’s quote that is but I love it!

  138. hmm… on first read I assumed that the anonymous Glamour staffer had to be white. But as other commenters have mentioned, it’s really black people who have a problem with natural black hair. I interned at the Wall Street Journal one summer and it was the black receptionists who gave me a hard time. None of my white male bosses seemed to notice the nappy hairline of my chignon, and the one black female senior writer on staff actually encouraged me to wear my hair out (she happened to see me after hours in my non-corporate gear one day). This hateration smacks like self-hateration. I’m kind of curious to know who actually made the comments, but kudos to Glamour for not outing the staffer who could likely be a young black female from a conservative background.

  139. i just started work at a large multination fairly conservative company and nobody has said a word to me about my hair or my almost 4 month beard. i was a little worried during the interview process but it was never a problem i think some of the other posters are right it has a lot to do with self-loathing, most of hair issues have come at the hands of my own people.

  140. good site humryo

  141. Hello bella Meredith J here. I have a lot to say so you might want to have a seat. I have been natural for three years now and I have yet to find that “perfect product” for my hair, if such a thing even exits. I am in college and I dont have a lot of time or money to spend on my hair. I have been using something called Hawaiian Silky on my hair and, to quote Mick Jagger, I cant get no satisfaction from it. It leaves my hair feeling heavy, greasy, and filmy for days. I have very dry kinky hair and my curls are very tight small spiral curls and I need them to be elongated and bouncy. I have been surfing the net for the past few days looking for products I could possibly use in my hair. Ive been on the websites for Blended Beauty, Mixed Chicks(even though I happen to be a peanut butter colored nubian chick), Miss Jessies, Hair Rules by Dickey, Kinky-Curly, and Carols Daughter and let me tell you my head is spinning!! I need your expert opinion what should I use in my hair? What works? I dont have money to shell out for something that wont work, I have books to buy! Please respond hastely if at all possible.
    Sincerely Frazzled, Meredith

  142. Hiya, Im mixed race with afro carribean hair.. struggling to decide if i want curly hair.. because i dont like the length as it is quite short

    georgia

  143. Hi bella!

    i live in south korea too and am thinking about doing that afro perm. do u think my chemically treated (relaxed) hair will hold up to this process? and do u know where in SK i could get this done

  144. Monica Pierre says:

    Hi! I know I’m late but I just decided to go ahead and get the internet. I was looking for afro american unrelaxed hair styles and ran across this site. I love it I couldn’t stop reading it. I love it. I have been natural for eight years and I braid and weave. I braid, weave, twist, flat iron, fro, afro puff you name it but I’m always looking for more things to do with my hair. I love it. Going natural was the best thing I ever done to and for my hair. I don’t let people make me fell self conscious about my hair because they will try. I do agree with some of the other bloggers that its our own people who say the most ignorant and hurtful things to me but I’ve learned to shake it off and keep my head held high while I’m telling them how much they hate themselves and are brainwashed in a way that they can’t reconize thier own beauty.

  145. Monica P. says:

    CurlyJ #2Post “Keep doing what you are doing, don’t let anyone influence you to make a decision regarding your hair because you have to look at your hair in the mirror evryday. You must know, “All things are possible though Christ who streghtens me. Nothing is too big or small for God”.

  146. Monica P. says:

    RyanB I rock my natural hair and lovin it. I love to be different. I don’t care who don’t like it. I agree diversity in the work place is huge so dare to be different. I love being set apart from everyone else. I wore my 1 1/2 in. fro to a job interview in a supercenter, in the pharmacy dept. with my two piece and got the job.

  147. Monica P. says:

    RyanB (continuing) I wore a two piece suit. My resume, experince and professionalism spoke for me.

  148. Monica P. says:

    Jane I agree. I wear my natural hair but I also wear weaves, extentions and even flat iron it too but I don’t think my current hairstyle should cause me to be judged by people who are self-righteous. My hairstyle don’t make me any less conscious. I also agree that is not a good measuring stick for anything.

  149. Monica P. says:

    Kamikak I understand, when I first went natural my greatest hurts came from other black people whom i thought would have understood. I lived in a city that was predominately Black and now I live in a city that’s predominately Hispanic and its all about your self confidence. I still hold my head up high.

  150. Monica P. says:

    BlackHoney I agree with you and Miss Katrina, if they can’t handle the naps, they can’t handle me.

  151. Monica P. says:

    edesse “You GO Girl!” You made the right choice. Keep your head up. His lose not your, God will sent bigger and better.

  152. Monica P. says:

    Mireille I agree with you, that is self hatred for a black person to say thier own natural hair make them a nappy little monkey. She would have been better off just keeping that comment to herself. I wear my natural hair and I was told my hair was nappy by another black woman, my co-worker in a beauty salon. It was sad not for me but for her.

  153. Monica P. says:

    Sumatra77 I agree totally.I wear my hair both ways too. Interviewed and worked with it and I’ve been sucessful. I don”t believe I have to alter my hair for anyone. I don”t want to work with or for someone who can’t except that. That was some food for thought in you post. However I don’t think that’s fare because all racism isn’t blatant.

  154. Monica P. says:

    Jane I think you told that particular non black person right. I think you should make a person feel as uncomfortable as they are trying to make you feel. I’m not saying two wrongs make a right but you handled that situation very well.

  155. Monica P. says:

    edesse I agree with you totally. I am self-employed myself at this time. YOU GO GIRL! I am proud to read a psst like yours. We share the same feelings about some issues. I love it.

  156. Monica P. says:

    Daphne I agree with you, “when black poeple wear thier natural hair its making a statement indeed”. However I disagree with you because you should not feel threatened by it unless you are one of those poeple who are afraid of the day black folk unify and stand tall and strong. What is N*****?

  157. Monica P. says:

    Anna That was encouaging and empowering. That’s what I love to hear, sucess stories. I already made the changed but I am encouraged by you post.

  158. Monica P. says:

    Melinda I’ve had the same experience with the reaction to my natural hair from thepeople who has the same natual hair as me. I don’t care about thier opinion because they didn’t understand. They thought relaxed hair was better than natural hair without a care about spiritualality, culture, etc.

  159. Monica P. says:

    Rachael The issue isn’t your hair. Don’t let someone else make you feel that way about yourself. You have to dig deeper within you. Maybe nobody ever told you but you are beautiful. Now you have to tell yourself you are beautiful twice as much as you were told otherwise.

  160. Monica P. says:

    roskynholcomb I agree fully. Love your dreads.

  161. Monica P. says:

    danielle “You Go Girl!”

  162. Monica P. says:

    TheBeautifulOne I go through the same experiences.

  163. Monica P. says:

    Bella I agree with you beauti starts and stops within.

  164. Monica P. says:

    Sumatra77 No because hair represents different things to different people. Some woman know that your hair is your holyness and you should treat it as such. I would never do anything to mine that would damage it. However I don’t judge people based on thier hair. Some woman take thier hair seriouly, some don’t.

  165. Monica P. says:

    Jane it is no more easy to go natural working and living around non-black people than black people. It is how deeply you feel about it. The more I learned about myself, history, roots, culture,ancestors and race, it became easier and easier. The feed back was negative and positvie but I made a decision and stuck with it.

  166. Monica P. says:

    nyc/caribbean ragazza Keep you beautiful head up because those particular brother don’t know beauti if it slapped em.

  167. Monica P. says:

    Tashia I agree with you, do your thing.

  168. Monica P. says:

    AfroBleu What do you mean you are not a believer?

  169. Monica P. says:

    simone Don’t let other people’s opinion get you down, they are wrong. Be proud of your heritage. You must love what you see in the mirror or nobody else will. Its all about confidence and self love. You gave some excellent device to rachael, I’m shocked by yours earlier remarks about your hair.

  170. Monica P. says:

    Risse I love what you said.

  171. Michelle says:

    I’m just reading this post now for the first time. Although I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE my natural hair, as ignorant as it was for that editor to make that statement, unfortunately, many in the corporate world have that view. I often wear my hair as an afro, twistouts, bantu knots, etc., but if I were going to a job INTERVIEW, I prefer to be seen with either braids or a wig. Because I don’t know what INNER prejudices are within an interviewers mind, I don’t want my hair to be the make or break it decision behind it. If it takes me wearing braids to get in the door, then so be it. It’s all a matter of presentation. Once I get in the door, it’s natural hair all the way.

  172. The “japanese” website is actually Korean. FYI. :)

Trackbacks

  1. [...] The Professional Prejudice @ AfroBella [...]

  2. [...] the napptural hair debate – Today, 10:10 PM seems don imus has re-ignited a flame amongst white yanky doodles. not sure of impact it has had in the uk but the bbc did cover imus sacking a hush money settlement anyway was browsing concreteloop and they highlighted an issue that was being discussed by Glamour magazine (usa version) editor ‘Glamour’ Editor To Lady Lawyers: Being Black Is Kinda A Corporate "Don’t" – Jezebel afrobella » Ask Afrobella — The “Professional” Prejudice please discuss? [...]

  3. [...] Jezebel Gold-Plated Witch on Wheels AfroBella ConcreteLoop [...]

  4. [...] Yup, despite the last negative response to me discussing beauty issues with a friend and then posting their picture… I’m doing it again. And guess what — I’m not gonna stop. If I have a friend who is honestly knowledgeable about a beauty issue I’m covering, I’m gonna ask their opinion and share it on Afrobella regardless of what they look like. Why? Because I respect their opinion and can vouch that they’re for real about what they say.  I have all different kinds of friends — some of them you’ll identify with, and others, you won’t. If it bothers you so much that you want to leave a comment about it, by all means express yourself. [...]

  5. [...] After the original Glamour magazine incident, yours truly was contacted with a letter of apology, which I chose to hold off on. (They sent the same apology to lots of other righteously pissed off bloggers, and you can read it here at Ask This Black Woman). [...]

  6. [...] It’s been causing quite a stir in the blogosphere for months, which you can read about here and here. Ask This Black Woman reports on the obligatory, canned apology she and other bloggers received in their inboxes from the powers that be at Glamour. [...]

  7. [...] spread titled Your Race, Your Looks.” The article is a response to the publication’s professional hair debacle of last year. In November, Glamour magazine rounded up a panel of esteemed journalists, beauty [...]

  8. [...] when I wrote it. Own Your Fro, Curly, Coily, Kinky, or Coarse, Thinking About Transitioning, and The Professional Prejudice were all posts that addressed my own attitudes and helped me become a better Afrobella through all [...]

  9. [...] on the side, as one of the features that attracts men the most.Wait, what?If you remember back in 2007 when a Glamour editor put her foot in a steaming hot hair controversy, this might seem like a surprising switch for the popular ladymag. And the February article [...]

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